Invasive Species Survey, Frederick City Watershed
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Invasive plant species are present within Frederick City Watershed and are a concern for ecosystem health. Research has shown that roads and trails often act as vectors for invasive species. Within Frederick City Watershed, there is a 9.5-mile sanctioned (legal) trail and over 100 miles of unsanctioned (illegal) trails. We addressed three questions to better understand the impact of roads and trails on invasive species prevalence within Frederick City Watershed. First, does invasive species prevalence differ near sanctioned versus unsanctioned trails? Second, does invasive species prevalence decrease with increasing distance from trails? Last, does invasive species prevalence increase closer to roads? To address these questions, we performed a survey of invasive species along transects running perpendicular to both sanctioned and unsanctioned trails. For each transect, we estimated a percent cover of invasive species within one-meter square plots at zero, five, 10, 15 and 20 meters on either side of the trail. In addition, we used GIS to determine transect distance from the nearest road. Our results show that invasive species cover increases with decreasing distance from both trails and roads. Our survey results also show that invasive species cover was greater near unsanctioned trails. However, due to the low sample size, it is unclear whether trail type or distance from the nearest road is responsible for this trend. Based on these results, we recommend closing trails farthest from roads to prevent the establishment of invasives in more remote areas of the Watershed, while focusing removal efforts along roads and trails closest to roads.
Final project for CONS670 Conservation Biology (Fall 2014). Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology, University of Maryland, College Park.