Is Eastern Redcedar an Invasive Species?
Eastern redcedar is an invasive species in the Great Plains because its natural enemy—fire—has been nearly eliminated, causing a rapid expansion of cedar into environments where it was historically absent. Many invasive species overcome natural enemies through introductions into new geographic regions. Cedar in the Great Plains is a unique case of invasion where a natural enemy was overcame within a native range.
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[00:00:05.490]Eastern redcedar is an invasive species
[00:00:07.860]in Nebraska for a couple reasons.
[00:00:10.060]The primary reason is it's invading
[00:00:12.930]areas where it previously was not found.
[00:00:17.450]Biological invasion's simply a process whereby
[00:00:20.700]a species is actively expanding its range into
[00:00:25.440]previously uninhabited range.
[00:00:28.670]As such, a biological invasion can be defined
[00:00:31.960]of multiple scales as invasive species
[00:00:35.150]can be those invading North America
[00:00:37.590]or if our interest is more local.
[00:00:40.030]An invasive species can be present in state
[00:00:42.970]or even a county level, etcetera.
[00:00:45.180]So really, the definition biologists tend to use
[00:00:48.150]is a species
[00:00:49.570]that's actively spreading
[00:00:54.780]formerly unoccupied areas.
[00:00:57.790]Case of redcedar, this is one of those cases,
[00:01:00.650]we're actually talking about a native species.
[00:01:03.750]So at the scale of the state, it's native.
[00:01:07.640]But of course, the term native
[00:01:09.880]is a scale specific definition
[00:01:11.830]if we were to go into the middle of the sand hills
[00:01:14.667]and identify our area of interest as 30 square miles,
[00:01:19.810]redcedar would not be native to that patch.
[00:01:24.100]Thus, the term native itself is a little bit problematic.
[00:01:28.390]However, just like non-native invasive species,
[00:01:32.240]the redcedar is a species that's lost its natural enemies.
[00:01:36.880]Enemy of redcedar is fire.
[00:01:39.460]And fire has been largely eliminated
[00:01:42.530]from the Nebraska landscape.
[00:01:44.980]Especially, in recent post-European colonization history,
[00:01:49.260]we're putting fire back on the landscape.
[00:01:51.520]But throughout much of Nebraska, we've lost fire.
[00:01:54.931]Redcedar is one of the most
[00:01:57.250]fire vulnerable species in the world.
[00:01:59.610]And the fact that it's spreading simply documents
[00:02:02.360]the fact that we've really lost fire
[00:02:05.560]as a controlling process of redcedar on the landscape.
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