Virginia Tech® home

Invasive species removal is a team effort

Loading player for
Category: academics Video duration: Invasive species removal is a team effort
Students in Jacob Barney's Biological Invasions course visited the Turfgrass Research Center, where they helped remove invasive plants growing on the property. The students learn that the first step for native ecosystem restoration is often removal of non-species that compete for precious resources.
This is the Biological Invasions class and today's project is about service learning. Previous to today, we've been doing work in the Stream Lab looking at ways to measure plant communities, identify invasive plants, and today we're working on removing invasive species. So today, we're giving the students experience on what it's like to actually manage these species, get hands-on experience in what it's actually like to be a practitioner in the field. We're going to focus mostly on mechanical removal today. Cutting, sawing, removing from the area to open up the sites so native species can theoretically recover in the area. A lot of these invasive species displace native species and they don't have a good niche in the ecosystem. So a good term is ecological plastic. They don't provide anything for the native species, the flauna and flora that live here. And they don't allow for anything else to live here. It's essentially as if they're strangling the ecosystem without giving anything back. For this class, removing invasive species helps with ecological restoration as a whole because it's one of the first steps to restoring an area. Today, I mainly focused on removing the common ivy. It's a vine that grows on the trees and tries to choke it out. So I was pulling it all down. The favorite tool that I used today was the machete. I used that to chop down some of the honeysuckle that was growing here because it was a thicker stem compared to the common ivy. So, the composition of this class has actually changed a lot in the 13 years I've been teaching it. There's a lot of students interested in ecological restoration now. And one of the main challenges they will face in that field are invasive species. They're often the first thing that has to be dealt with in an ecosystem. And so this is giving students the experience about what it's like to practically remove them, How difficult it could be, how expensive and time consuming, and that it's a long term investment. And this is just the first step in that process.