During my time working for the Nichols Arboretum we cut bushes such as the Asian honeysuckle and buckthorn at knee height because they are classified as invasive species. These species were brought from different parts of the world by humans which is in contrast to native species that have been there before since the Pre-Columbian era. It was incredibly moving working as a team in order to have a positive impact on native species.
To understand how these non-native and invasive species arrived we look at our ancestors.
The honeysuckle was brought to the United States during the 1800s. (“Nonnative Plants: Ecological Traps,” 2013) Some tended to be accidental, but the honeysuckle was admired for its beauty making the plant desirable. The flowers along the plant Why they were brought here? What were they used for? Thinking at the time? Their views were rooted in strong anthropocentrism where they believed they could do what they wish towards the environment without thinking about the future in any regards.
The honeysuckle in particular has a great effect on the biodiversity of other wildlife within the forest. The flowers from the bush, the berries, and the nectar can provide food to other life, but the vegetation is undesirable for the native animals and insects. Through evolution organisms have evolved to retrieve nutrients from sources of food that are native to our habitats. If a bird for instance that has evolved in Michigan for many years and unexpectedly is flooded with a plant, it has no other choice but to consume it.
The bird does not have the capacity to properly digest the foliage of the plant. This leads to issues such as the pigment of a cardinal for example because of the lack of protein inside the berries compared to a native plant.
Buckthorn is also a serious threat to other native plants. The plant itself is toxic making it harmful for wildlife to consume it. It spread very quickly making it challenging for the latest growth to arise by changing the nutrient soil levels and it contains an allelopathic chemical that overpowers the growth of nearby plants. This makes it extremely difficult for new native trees to form alongside it. As these native species begin to diminish it becomes increasingly tougher for other organisms to survive inside that ecosystem and eventually leads to nothing but buckthorn in the surrounding area.
These invasive essentially species reduce biodiversity