WHY SWEAT THE INVASIVES?

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?

In a century or two, the vegetation of this planet may look completely different than it does today | Anthropocene   

We used the results from the past to look at the risk of future ecosystem change,” University of Arizona geosciences graduate student Connor Nolan, who conducted much of the analysis, said in a press release.

….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.

No Ecosystem on Earth Is Safe From Climate Change – The Atlantic

If climate change continues unabated, nearly every ecosystem on the planet would alter dramatically, to the point of becoming an entirely new biome,according to a new paper written by 42 scientists from around the world They warn that the changes of the next 200 years could equal—and may likely exceed—those seen over the 10,000 years that ended the last Ice Age.

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.

Author: fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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