Spotted Knapweed along a Renfrew County Roadside. (Photo by T. McCadden)
Be On the Lookout for Invaders!
Posted on Thursday August 1, 2019
Working in the field of Natural Resources is a rewarding experience. There is always new technology, new science, and constant changes in ecology to learn. One area that is always bringing new challenges is that of Invasive Species. No, this does not mean the extra-terrestrial kind brought to us by Hollywood movies, but invasives that threaten the ecology of our region.
Invasive Species include many terrestrial and aquatic plants, aquatic organisms, and terrestrial insects. A common denominator with them all, is that none of them are native to our area, and as such they don’t have their native predators to keep them under control in the new habitat. This is what makes invasive species so detrimental to the local ecosystems. Terrestrial plants have come in hay seed, in the soil of purchased plants for gardens, or even in exchanging plants with a fellow gardener living outside of our region. Aquatic plants and organisms have often hitched a ride on boats, fishing equipment and live wells of unsuspecting anglers, and terrestrial insects have come in overseas shipping crates.
In 2017, Environment Services at Garrison Petawawa had to deal with soil attached to a few vehicles returning from exercise in western Canada. These vehicles had soil lodged on the undersides that could have contained any number of plants that once relocated to Petawawa could out compete natural vegetation here and threaten the local ecosystem. This is another common denominator of invasives. Once they establish themselves in a new habitat, they outcompete the native species and as a result endanger the local ecological balance of our native species. The previously mentioned soil was collected and disposed of in a manner that would not allow seed dispersal from the non-native soil.
This event reminded us all that we need to be constantly aware of our activities and the potential of destructive stowaways. Spotted Knapweed is a beautiful flower that has crept across Canada from the West coast where it first appeared following the purchase of hay seed from Europe in the late 1800’s. Since then it has impacted range land on the prairies and can even be found here in Renfrew County and elsewhere in Eastern Ontario. It is just one of many invaders putting the ecology of Ontario at risk. Environment Services staff are doing their part to be on the look-out for more invaders and keeping them in check at Garrison Petawawa.