Early detection of invasive plants, animals and diseases is a high priority for Cumberland Piedmont Network (CUPN). Effects of invasive species include:
- Loss of threatened and endangered species,
- Altered structure and composition of terrestrial and aquatic communities,
- Reduction in overall species diversity,
- Prevention of seedling establishment of native plants,
- Disruption of native insect-plant associations, and
- The introduction of harmful plant pathogens.
While long-term changes associated with invasive species are being monitored through other protocols, it is critical to catch new populations of exotic species early in their invasion of new and sensitive areas. Early detection of invasive species increases the chance of eradication.
The focus of early detection monitoring in the Cumberland Piedmont Network begins with monitoring of invasive plant and forest pest species, and emphasizes educating all field crews, cooperators, resource managers, volunteers and visitors on invasive species identification. The network also provides a framework for reporting and disseminating information on potential infestations. In addition, an Exotic Plant Management Team, which is stationed at Blue Ridge Parkway and serves multiple networks, is currently evaluating parks for invasive plant inventory and control issues. Through the efforts of this team, combined with reports from vegetation communities monitoring that describes which natural communities are most threatened by exotic plants, priorities will be established to allow the CUPN program to focus on higher priority species that pose the most significant threat.
For more information contact Clare Bledsoe, Biologist with the Cumberland Piedmont Network, at (270) 758-2133 or via email.