Invasive species, or plants and animals that are not native to a particular area, can have a devastating effect on the natural resources of the state. These species can cause economic and ecological damage and impact human health.
When non-native species are introduced, they have few natural predators, competitors, or diseases that regulate their populations. These plants and animals can take over ecosystems, spread rapidly, and decrease the biodiversity of native plants and animals.
For example, Kudzu is a plant that is not native to Texas but was thought to have been brought into the state to help stabilize erosion along river banks or as a decorative garden plant. According to texasinvasives.org, without natural controls such as pests that feed on the plant, Kudzu crowds out plants that are native to Texas. It is currently classified as a noxious weed.
Similarly, zebra mussels originally from Russia, Poland, and the Balkans infested North American waters in the late 1980s. The invasive mollusk damages boats and plugs drinking water pipes, causing billions of dollars in damage. The mussels have no natural predator in the state and compete for food, eventually smothering native mussel colonies.
Prevention, detection, monitoring and repairing the damage caused by invasive species is extremely expensive. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the nationwide annual economic impact of invasive species on the state exceeds $120 billion. Invasive aquatic species impact fishing and hunting opportunities, property values, water recreation, and water quality.
In addition to zebra mussels, the most common invasive animals in Texas and the Brazos River basin are feral hogs and nutria.
The most common invasive plants in Texas, in addition to
kudzu are giant salvinia, water hyacinth, hydrilla, alligatorweed, Chinese Tallow Tree, and salt cedar.