Our world has become much smaller and as a result things are getting shifted around the earth. Non-native species have become a problem because some are very invasive and in some instances a very serious problem. How do these species get transported out of their native areas to our country? Some show up on products shipped in from other counties like the ash borer that is thought to come to this country in wooden pallets. Others are transported on purpose by folks that don't know any better or see a way to make some money by selling them. And it is not only stuff from other countries but sometimes things from other parts of our country are transferred to areas where they are not native which can upset their new environment.
Ash borer is a relatively new non-native insect species that is killing all our ash trees at an alarming rate. Although there were restrictions on the transferring of ash trees for firewood in New York state more than 50 miles from its source I never saw where it was strictly enforced. It is now present across the state and the ash tree will probably disappear. The large number of dead or dying trees you have been noticing everywhere you go this summer are not from the hot weather we are experiencing but are ash trees with the ash borer. I see woods that contain large amounts of ash trees completely dying off, many groves of ash in our Alabama Swamp and even in our cities.
So we are not only losing a very common and useful tree but it is going to contribute to many other problems. Folks who have ash trees around their homes will be losing that shade and pleasant atmosphere they provide. Many of the trees along our roads are ash and when they die and fall many will be to the road. Not only does this make a big job for our highway maintenance crews but could also lead to vehicle accidents. And what does that ash borer do when all the ash are gone, die off or move on to another species.
Another non-native species that has spread in our wet environment areas is phragmites. This is a very tall reed (up to 15 to 20 feet tall) with a fluffy seed heads that is very aggressive and quickly spreads and out-completes native species. It releases toxins from its roots into the soil to hinder growth of and kill surrounding plants. It is a useless vegetation for birds and other wildlife because of it's denseness that eventually dominates an area. It has become a very serious problem in our marshes and even along our road ditches where it can seriously effect water drainage.
The starling, a black bird, is another good example of non-native species causing havoc with our native species. This species was intently brought into New York City back in the 1890s. It has established huge populations that competed heavily with our native cavity nesting birds like bluebirds, martins, kestrels and even wood ducks. They are also a dirty bird that causes problem when they gather in huge flocks around our farms and cities.
Water chestnut is an aquatic invasive, non-native plant that was introduced to this country as an ornamental plant that now chokes many of our waterways that effect boating, swimming and out competes our native aquatic plants which in turn has negative effects on fish , waterfowl and other marsh wildlife. So far we have avoided it here in the Alabama Swamp but for how long ?
A new “kid on the block” is oak wilt which is a lethal disease caused by a fungus. The fungus gets in the sapwood of the oak which prevents the uptake and movement of water which eventually kills the tree. Red oak is seriously effected but white oak can also be. Right now it has only been found in a few areas around the State but that wasn't that the case with the Dutch elm disease and ash borer too ?
Another is the gypsy moth which seems to heavy at work this year ... Gee I could go on and on about all this stuff that has come to us intentionally and unintentionally but I'm getting depressed !
Yes the world is becoming smaller and all this non-native stuff is becoming a hopeless situation. I think it is going to have to work it's self all out as man doesn't seem to be doing very well at it and in most cases he has been the cause of it.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or email@example.com .