Invasive Species

Our scientists are leaders in understanding how invasive species impact ecosystems. These plants and animals, moved outside of their natural range, are wreaking havoc on the quality of our forest and freshwater resources.


Our Work

Because they were monitoring the Hudson River before the arrival of zebra mussels, Cary Institute scientists have been able to track how the invaders are transforming the river. Collaborative studies have shed light on how zebra mussels influence fish, native pearly mussels, and the tiny plants and animals at the base of the Hudson’s food web.

Our scientists are also researching how invaders are shaping our forests. Milder winters are expanding the range of insect pests. Ongoing studies in the Catskill Forest are looking at how beech bark disease and the hemlock wooly adelgid are altering the tree species that make up the forest, and its ability to buffer pollution and store carbon.

One of the best ways to manage invasive species is to prevent them from becoming established in the first place. To that end, several of our scientists are committed to educating decision makers about the environmental and economic burden of invaders and promoting management measures that will prevent new introductions.

Highlighted Projects

Effects of Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on Northeastern Forests

Hemlock is a "foundation" tree species in eastern forests and its presence defines the properties of a unique ecosystem that is presently declining due to the introduction and spread of an invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid.

zebra mussel

Zebra Mussels and the Hudson River

Zebra mussels appeared in the Hudson in 1991 and fundamentally transformed the ecosystem. The zebra mussel invasion is linked to losses of native mussels and changes in the fish community.

Effects of Beech Bark Disease on Catskill forests

This project is focused on the consequences of the invasion of the beech bark disease (BBD) in northern hardwood forests, which dominate the uplands of the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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