NPS/Big Bend National Park
Whether you call them exotic, nonnative, or invasive species makes a difference. The general idea is the same, plants and animals have been transported the world around and some do well in other ecosystems. The finer definitions matter when talking about how successfull an animal or plant is outside of its home ecosystem.
Possibly the most well known and longest lasting invasive species in the park is Saltcedar, also known as Tamarisk. These trees were introduced to much of the desert southwest in the early 1900s as windbreaks and to lessen the impacts of soil erosion. Ironically, it is this plant that has caused some of the worst erosive features on the Rio Grande.
Whats worse, this tree is know to evaporate significant amounts of water, much more than a like sized cottonwood or willow would in a day. Equally depressing is the rate of spread for this plant, which has been known to resist cold teperatures, fire, floods, and drought.
Did You Know?
Burro Mesa, named for the herds of wild burros that once grazed there, is one of the structurally low sunken fault blocks in the Park. The highest lava unit on Burro Mesa is the same lava that caps Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains inside Big Bend National Park. More...