It disturbs me not a little that Japanese Stilt Grass, Autumn Olive, Oriental Bittersweet, Garlic Mustard and (Alabama horror come true) Kudzu is invading Floyd County.
As a biology watcher for more than a half century and as one who knows what “should” grow or not grow here, I admit to a mild panic when I have so many places just on our patch of land where every day I find new patches of field or forest conquered by plants that ought not be here. And there they are, and there they will be. I can’t keep my finger in the dike, and so I give up.
In the likely long run, it won’t matter that any given patch of Eastern Deciduous Forest is conquered by Asian trees, African shrubs and exotic vines since “our forest” of the Early Anthropocene may not continue very long in the geologic sense for much longer even as forest. So why sweat the details of merely a deranged forest where “native plants” has no meaning?
….We find that as temperatures rise, there are bigger and bigger risks for more ecosystem change.” The changes affect both the mix of species present and the overall structure of the ecosystem – for example, forest versus grassland.
…We’re talking about the same amount of change in 10-to-20 thousand years that’s going to be crammed into a century or two,” he said. Moreover, land use change and invasive species will magnify the effects of warming.
And given this degree and rate of change, every biome on the planet is threatened with possibly intolerable perturbation to the moisture and temperature determinants that have sustained tropical forest or tundra or prairie or coral reef. And from that, all the plants and animals, insects and microbes that have evolved and adapted to those condition is at risk.
If humanity does not stop emitting greenhouse-gas emissions, the character of the land could metamorphose: Oak forest could become grassland. Evergreen woods could turn deciduous. And, of course, beaches would sink into the sea.