Why Are Invasive, Problematic Native Species and Pathogens a Challenge?
Biodiversity can be impacted in unpredictable and harmful ways by increasingly connected local, state, national, and international communities, which can introduce and spread native and non-native plants, animals, and microbes.
What Are Some Examples?
Invasive non-native species: tamarisk, cheatgrass, zebra mussels, goldfish, Japanese beetles.
Problematic native species: overabundant native elk, overabundant spruce beetles, overabundant algae.
Introduced genetic material: pesticide resistant crops, using nonlocal seed stock, genetically modified insects for biocontrol.
Pathogens: sylvatic plague affecting rodents, chytrid fungus affecting amphibians, whirling disease affecting wild trout.
What Are The Effects?
Established non-native species can outcompete, prey on, or hybridize native species and affect local ecosystems.
Artificial food sources, lack of top predators, and disruptions to natural processes can put an ecosystem out of balance, and allow for the proliferation of a native species which may become detrimental to the system.
Pathogens reducing the abundance of a keystone species negatively impact the myriad of species which use or rely on the affected species.
What Is CPW Doing?
The most pressing threat to Colorado’s prairie dog populations is the flea-born sylvatic plague. In addition to dusting Gunnison’s prairie dog colonies with insecticides targeted at the fleas carrying the pathogen, CPW is also testing peanut-butter flavored oral plague vaccines. Agency results have indicated overall vaccination success, and are being used to inform future conservation and management strategies.
Russian olive, a state-listed noxious weed, had overrun
Barr Lake State Park and crowded out the native plants many of the park’s wildlife called home. Through diverse partnerships and generous grants,
CPW’s Forest Management Unit has since successfully removed every Russian olive from Barr Lake.
The spread of forest pests, like the emerald ash borer and the Japanese beetle, is facilitated by the movement of firewood from state to state. To
educate outdoor recreators in the importance of buying and using local firewood, CPW has partnered with other state and federal agencies in the “burn it where you buy it campaign.”