“Invasive species are one of the most significant threats to native ecosystems in the nation” (DCNR Invasive Species Management Plan, 2011). An invasive species is defined as “a species which is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction does, or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Invasive species that have a potential to impact the economy and environment are best managed by preventing their presence in a habitat. When prevention is no longer an option, “eradicating, suppressing, reducing, or managing invasive species populations, preventing spread of invasive species and taking steps such as restoration of native species and habitats to reduce the effects of invasive species and to prevent further invasions” is necessary (Clinton, 1999).
Many times these exotic plants were planted for specific reasons; however once they grow outside of their intended location they become problematic. Invasives have the capacity to easily grow, adapt, and encompass large areas resulting in difficulty of management. These species decrease plant biodiversity and therefore are a large threat to the integrity of the ecosystems. They compete for moisture, sunlight, nutrients, and space, contributing to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species (USDA, 2014). Over 100 million acres in the United States are affected by invasive plant species (SC-EPPC, 2011).
References:Clinton, W. J. 1999. Executive Order 13112--Invasive Species. Weekly Compilation Of Presidential Documents, 35(5), 185.