How do invasive species trigger “trophic cascade”, and why should you care?

The Clean Water Act of 1977 mandated Federal agencies to prevent the introduction of invasive species, and the mandate was updated in an Executive Order in 1999 . (On linked website, search for Executive Order 13112) 

So why such a fuss about invasive species? Nature so often harshly reminds us that one thing leads to another, and it is doubly true when non-native invasive species move in. In both aquatic and terrestrial environments, detrimental changes begin immediately. And they continue to affect one after another of species’ populations or larger ecosystem communities. First may come the loss of soil organisms, meaning vegetation suffers from reduced nutrients. Then, species that feed on vegetation start falling out. Soon, higher level predators are affected when an adequate number of insects, small mammals and birds are no longer present. Scientists call this ripple effect through the food web a “trophic cascade.” Yes, you should care. 

A neighborhood under attack by invasive species.
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

We are prone to take all the good things from nature for granted, so sometimes we lose sight of the fact that without all the interactions that create vibrant ecosystems, we end up without vital benefits – things like clean waterways, clear air, forest products, recreational areas, and drinking water! 

Now you know. Will you take the next step to put that knowledge into action, helping to stop a trophic cascade along your favorite pathway? Join your many neighbors here in The Woodlands who monitor, control and remove invasive species. The Invasives Task Force of The Woodlands logs over a thousand hours a year in volunteer service to keep our pathways clear of damaging invasive species.  

If your answer is yes, the next workshop is coming up on February 19. Here’s the info:  

  • Presenter: Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Director, Research & Education, Texas Invasive Species Institute 
  • Time: 8:30 to 11:30a.m. 
  • This is an ONLINE workshop. REGISTER to receive the Zoom link.  

You don’t need to wait until February 19 to make a difference. Join the Invasives Task Force now – sign up HERE as a Volunteer! If you want to know even more about the damage caused by invasives, check out this article on the website of North American Invasive Species Management Association. 

Yes, one person can make a difference, especially when part of a team of dedicated volunteers. You can join them!
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

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