Invasive species suffocate mangroves. But could they help these wetlands in Bradenton prosper?      April 18, 2018
From a bird’s-eye view, dark lines cut across Tidy Island, leaving a trace like old scars.
A grid of mosquito ditches was carved into the 240-acre mangrove island between the 1950s and 1970s, well before it became home to 96 residents in a development of the same name. Excavating these ditches led to spoil piles, which made a hospitable environment for invasive species.
Exotic plants like Brazilian peppers, Australian pines and carrotwood can essentially invade and suffocate native species such as mangroves. The typical procedure is to cut out the intruding plants and take them away, maybe even burning them for disposal.
But is there a way to remove invasive species and supplement the environment it was once destroying? Researchers at New College of Florida are looking to find out.
Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program awarded the Sarasota college a three-year, $294,198 grant to look into two methods of invasive species disposal: killing the plant and leaving it in place, or turning it into mulch and spreading it in the wetlands.