Ecological Change - Changes in Biological Communities
Nationwide, invasive species have been identified as the second highest threat to biological diversity, second only to loss of species and habitat from development and urban sprawl. A principal goal of the Reserve’s Stewardship Program is to prevent or control the establishment of aggressive invasive species (primarily Phragmites austraulis) in high-quality natural communities. Although eradication may not a practical option for some invasive species already well-established at Reserve components (such as Phragmites austraulis at our Goodwin Island component), minimizing the spread of established invasives and preventing new invasive species from becoming established within Reserve components is a viable objective. Using information from Reserve-component management plans and drawing on the expertise of state (e.g., VaDCR), federal (e.g., USF&WS), and working groups (e.g., Virginia Phragmites Working Group and Virginia Invasive Species Control Council), Chesapeake Bay Virginia Reserve has begun to develop and implement a Reserve-wide Invasive Species Control Plan. The plan will ultimately identify a wide range of actions and strategies required to achieve the goals of prevention, research, control, and management of each invasive species.
Reserve stewardship staff will continue to design monitoring programs to estimate and track native animal populations and impacts in order to guide management actions. Currently, there are two such programs which have been identified as high priority over the next five-year time frame. The Reserve plans to investigate and potentially implement a control strategy of raccoon populations associated with diamond-back terrapin and shorebirds nesting predation at the Goodwin and Catlett Islands. Stewardship staff also plans to monitor for Southern pine bark beetle outbreaks within the maritime forest habitats of Goodwin and Catlett Islands and coordinate with appropriate state agencies to develop strategies should an outbreak occur.