Across Appalachia

Invasive Plant Density Map Shows Appalachia’s Native Resilience

Date: February 17, 2016

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By Eliza Laubach

A map of invasive plant species shows that biodiverse Appalachia has a lower density of invasive plants than much of the Southeast.

Last year, the U.S. Forest Service released a map that shows the density of invasive species in the country. According to the results, the southern Appalachians have significantly less invasive species density than the surrounding regions, with the Piedmont region having the highest invasive species density. As a whole, the Southeast is 39 percent invaded by introduced species.

Kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle are familiar invasive species to the South, introduced to stabilize roadsides or for landscaping, but they soon invaded and disrupted ecosystems across eastern America. When organic matter, built up on top of soil over time, is removed or altered, a niche for nonnative plants to take root is created, making it difficult for native plants to take root again. In parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where mountaintop removal coal mining or hydraulic fracturing has disturbed many natural areas, up to 80 percent of the land is inhabited by invasive species.

To view the map, visit 1.usa.gov/1S1i2Pf.

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