Invasive plant survey of parks and preserves in East Travis County
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Invasive species are the second-leading cause of the decline of native species, making it a critical global environmental issue (Pimentel 2005). The goal of this study was to identify which non-native invasive plant species are common in eastern Travis County and which environmental factors associate with their establishment and spread in this area. Five parks and preserves were sampled, as they are intended for the conservation of native species and are more accessible for educational use. Six of the 15 species searched for, Bothriochloa ischaemum, Lactuca serriola, Ligustrum lucidum, Lonicera japonica, Melia azedarach, and Sorghum halepense, were each found in at least one of the five sites. The presences and absences of these species were compared to a suite of ecosystem properties, including habitat, disturbance, the average soil depth, and the horizontal and vertical distances to the nearest pond, lake, stream, or river. None of these six species appears to need observable recent disturbance. All of these six species, both woody and herbaceous, can tolerate shallow soils. The woody invasive species Ligustrum lucidum and Melia azedarach seem to prefer more mesic habitats. The invasive grass species Bothriochloa ischaemum and Sorghum halepense seem to prefer habitats that are more open. Several invasions of potential conservation concern were identified.