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Invasive Species in WNY

Invasive Species

An invasive species is one that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health.

Economic Impacts

Invasive species cause significant economic harm in WNY, including impacts on agriculture, timber production and forest products, recreation and tourism. Spotted Wing Drosophila is a pest of berries and stone fruits. Present in WNY, this species has the ability reduce marketable yields. Emerald Ash Borer has infested ash trees across our region and we are only beginning to see the economic impacts here. In Ohio, they have seen decreases in landscape value and significant management costs to remove or treat infested trees. Phragmites infestations in coastal Michigan have driven down property values and aquatic invasive species such as hydrilla, and water chestnut cover our waterways restricting recreation and discouraging tourism.

Human Health Impacts

Some human health impacts are easy to see, such as giant hogweed which is a very large invasive plant that can cause painful burns, permanent scarring, and even blindness. Even west nile virus, spread by mosquitoes infected with the virus, is an invasive pathogen. However, many of our human health impacts are less direct. Invasive species can impair ecosystem services and conditions such as water/nutrient filtration, air quality, flood patterns, soil chemistry, and carbon sequestration.

Environmental Impacts

Environmental impacts of invasive species are significant and not only include loss of biodiversity, but changes in structural diversity, disruption of natural processes, and impairment of ecosystem services. These changes can negatively impact native wildlife, such as song birds and game species, and can decrease forest health and productivity.

 

Visit our Priority Invasives page for WNY PRISM lists of priority Terrestrial, Aquatic and Early Detection Species for our region.