Invasive plants and their effect on native ecosystems | Jacob Llodra | TEDxYouth@GDRHS

Invasive plants and their effect on native ecosystems | Jacob Llodra | [email protected]



all right so it's finally spring time the temperature is starting to rise as we come out of winter and it's really exciting because we get to go outside and experience the outdoors after this long winter and it's also really exciting because the trees and other plants are starting to sprout their leaves and we're getting a glimpse at this green after months of just brown we get to see all it's a beautiful time of year and these beautiful plants also start to emerge but sometimes the most beautiful plants are actually the most dangerous in spring mark the beginning of my assault against invasive plants so this is a picture of what you might expect a typical northeastern force to look like at a first glance you don't really notice anything that stands out to you but for me when I look a little closer I see this invasive plants this is a picture of a vine literally strangling a tree to death who would have thought and as the name suggests invasive plants are typically introduced to an ecosystem and directly threaten native species so for example invasive plants typically aren't introduced on purpose but by accident if somebody goes backpacking across Asia for example and their hiking boots get clogged with mud and in that mud is a single seed and they come back home go hiking on a local trail that mud plops out along with that seed and that seed starts to sprout and grow mature creates more seeds and those seeds disperse it begins to create this new pop elite population of this new plant in a new ecosystem the fact that it comes from this place other than its original location it has no natural predators it's not in its natural ecosystem and that allows invasive plants to really grow in the first place and dominate an ecosystem when once invasive plants really get a foothold Aneke goes in an ecosystem they really start to block the light from need of plants they suck up vital nutrients and change the soil chemistry altogether and it makes it really difficult for native plants to eke out in existence so the problem with invasive plants sure the invasive plants are the problem but the problem really stems from humans ourselves before the pilgrims came in the 1600s forests were pristine and untouched but once settlers started to come things started to change farmers clear cutted forests and started cultivating the land altering micro climates and altering the soil all together and as farming started to phase out over the years and force started to grow back I'm sure a lot of you have seen rock walls like that that's where cultivated lands land once resided for started to grow back invasive plants which were more adapted to these altered conditions really got a strong foothold in these ecosystems and have been giving native plants a hard time coexisting so this image right here this graphic represents the the over 3,500 species documented in New England and in 2015 the New England wildflower society estimated that 31% of all documented species in New England are non native and 10% of those are invasive and directly influence and affect native species so here's the big picture but when you look at just native species this is what you see and it doesn't look that stark of a contrast but it has major reverberations so this is a picture of me chopping down a buckthorn tree not too long ago this last snowstorm so the invasive sea invasive species season has already begun for me but when I tell people that I spend hours upon hours in the woods cutting invasive species and getting all sweaty it's a good workout they look at me maybe as some of you are looking at me right now kind of they judge me I'm kind of outside of the box and true yeah what other 17 year old teenage boys go outside plucking garlic mustard song down buckthorn trees not too many me I'm the only one I know but I can tell you even though it is fun for me it's not just for fun it's got a much bigger meaning so this is a picture of a typical food web in an ecosystem and as you see plants are at the be at the bottom of the ecosystem they supply ecosystems with most of the energy throughout the ecosystem and are responsible for the life of others barbourville herbivores eat plants carnivores eat the herbivores which eat the plants and the energy is felt throughout the whole entire ecosystem and once you introduce an invasive plant to this ecosystem then the native plants start dying off and the native animals that depend on the need of plants also start to die off because they don't have that anymore and it really causes a big disrupting disrupting sin the ecosystem a lot of money is spent on protecting animals in a given ecosystems and in a given ecosystem but in fact a lot of our efforts should be focused on protecting native plants and controlling invasives so for example this is a plant that you're all probably somewhat familiar with milkweed and it's critical to the life cycle of the monarch butterfly the monarch butterfly lays its eggs on the milkweed the milkweed provides food and the only food source for monarch caterpillars and it's as I said crucial for their lifecycle and once you introduce an invasive that threatens species like the monarch it has big effects on the entire ecosystem so this is a picture of Japanese knotweed another invasive plant when that isn't introduced right here if you see little sprouts no big deal give that a little water and some sunlight then you get this it grows very thick and high and chop it and it really prevents any milkweed from growing when the milkweed when the milkweed disappears Marten our caterpillars disappeared butterflies disappear and all the species that depend on depend on monarch butterflies also begin to disappear and it's felt throughout the entire ecosystem so we'll go back to this picture of me chopping down buckthorn in my backwoods not too long ago throughout my life and my history in working with invasive species I really gained a keen awareness for the effect on invasive species that is felt throughout the entire ecosystem throughout the past year I've been working with the Groton Conservation Commission going to local parcels of land and helping to remove invasive species before they get a big foothold in the ecosystem and cause a lot of damage and through working with them I've gained this keen sense of awareness that if anything you gain from my my presentation I hope that's what you get realizing that these small little plants can have a huge impact on an ecosystem and this is a picture of me not too long ago it hasn't just been this past year that I've been involved with invasives but really most of my life it started with my educators in elementary school in elementary school I was part of my Roots & Shoots Club and I went we went back to a vernal pool and we saw these big vines bittersweet vines growing in strangling these trees and we were cutting them down and that's when I was really introduced to this topic of invasives and the effect they the effect that they can have so I'm I spend my time outdoors a lot and after being introduced to that concept I've been able to really see that effect that they have on ecosystems and that's me at the water chestnut pole on the Nashua River right in Pepperell afterwards if any of you are interested come contact me at intermission but yeah the that the idea of getting this keen sense of awareness for impactive on invasives is really what I hope you gain from this presentation as you guys walk day-to-day past I don't know a forest or what whatever ecosystem many of you I'm sure know what this flower is but I'm not sure if you are aware that it's invasive purple loosestrife it was planted by a gardener as a decorative plant but seeds eventually spread this more seeds led to more seeds and now they're occupying a lot of a quat marsh wetlands in Massachusetts all of New England and the country and they're causing a really big problem same goes with bittersweet that I've talked about people cut bittersweet that they see in the fall create wreaths out of it and birds end up going to that wreath eating the bird eating the seeds and those seeds get dispersed everywhere when you're done with the wreath you throw in your woods and those seeds end up populating your backwoods and bittersweet gets everywhere and it's a really big problem and also multiflora Rose pretty soon you'll start start seeing these flowers everywhere they're probably one of the most beautiful flowers that you'll see in the springtime but as you're walking through the woods and you get prickers on you thorns that's what these are they're really pain in the box so my message today isn't I'm not this isn't a call to action for you to get out there and actively pull invasive plants that's not what this is it's more getting your awareness set on that point but that's great if you do talk to me afterwards but there are some easy things that you can do planting native species is one of them when you go to the nursery most of those species are typical nursery species they come from all over the world and are for the purpose of planting but some native species are just as beautiful maybe even more beautiful and have more beneficial impacts on the surrounding area for instance asters the blue flower right there and Cardinal flower if you plant those in your garden they'll start to attract a lot of native native pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies and those pollinators are crucial to the life cycles of native plants and those support the native animals as well so it's really something easy that you guys can do so that being said you guys all have a great you can all have the potential to have a great impact on the well-being of our forests and I've adapted a well-known quote let's make our fourths great again thank you

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4 thoughts on “Invasive plants and their effect on native ecosystems | Jacob Llodra | [email protected]

  1. Bravo, glad to hear some young voices….I expect this will be a huge industry when people get excited about this…ie…too late:/

  2. This acts like an allegory for what is going on Cosmically ~ The native energies of Earth were infiltrated with harmful energies but on a large scale this is part of the Creative/Destructive processes of Terra to Celestial scales/ – it also helps wake up the "stewards" of the Earth – since these things are hard to deny and our carbon "footprint" is enough to stun the most lethargic peeps.

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