UC biology survey finds invasive plants invading tri-state forests

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CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Botanists at the University of Cincinnati found there was less biodiversity in the forests of the three states after observing studies.

Both extensive botanical studies have been conducted and observed over the past two centuries, showing the diversity of plants over time in Cincinnati. UC botanists are currently conducting a third survey in response to the growth of invasive species.

“One of the most striking differences is the large number of non-native invasive plants that have now taken over natural areas in the Cincinnati area,” explained UC biology professor Dr. Denis Conover.

Honeysuckle is one of the few invasive plants to invade forests in all three states, according to botanists. Not only do these plants take up space, but they also limit the growth of trees.

“It’s a shrub,” Conover said. “It gets white flowers in the spring, it’s the first woody plant to leaf in the spring, and it keeps its leaves longer in the fall than any native woody plant.”

Efforts to remove invasive plants can be labor intensive, but volunteer groups, such as Preserve Burnett Woods and the Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society, have tried to help as much as they can.

“There has been a concerted effort over the past three years,” said Bob Bergstein of the Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society. “Preserve Burnett Woods is a group that has a particular interest in Burnett Woods, so they helped organize the removal of invasive plants, [while] we have planted native plants in the wetlands and in the forest here for the past year. »

The threat of an invasive plant monoculture not only affects native plants, but also native animals and insects, according to a UC biology survey. The loss of native plants means that some native animals and insects may lose essential food and habitat resources.

If the problem is not addressed, forest ecosystems could be lost, along with the thousands of native species they contain, Bergstein added.

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