Study: Invasive species such as Amur honeysuckle are taking over Ohio forests

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A new botanical survey of forests in Ohio found that invasive species introduced to the United States over the past centuries are crowding out many native species. The study, titled “The rise of nonnative plants in wooded natural areas in southwestern Ohio,” was published in the journal Ecological Restoration this month.

UC biologist Denis Conover and his co-author Robert Bergstein found in their study that many species purposely introduced as landscaping plants are flourishing in the wild. The study found that Amur honeysuckle, a woody shrub is gaining charge over American forests. Today, it is a dominant woody plant found ubiquitously throughout the state of Ohio, crowding out virtually all other low-lying vegetation, the study found.

The spread of nonnative invasive species into wooded natural areas in southwestern Ohio threatens the continued survival of native flora and fauna. In some woodlands, the Amur honeysuckle layer is so dense that the only native species remaining are older trees whose canopy is already growing above the shrub layer. Native plants just don’t have a chance. Everything that depends on the native plants — insects, birds — can be lost. Horticulturists introduced most of the nonnative plants from Europe and Asia as ornamentals. Their seeds eventually spread in the wild.

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