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UDaily: Eradicating invasive marsh plant can threaten endangered birds' recovery

UDaily: Eradicating invasive marsh plant can threaten endangered birds' recovery

Efforts to eradicate invasive species increasingly occur side by side with programs focused on recovery of endangered ones, leaving resource managers to face the question of what to do when the eradication of an invasive species threatens an endangered species. In a recent study published in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Delaware and the University of California, Davis, examine that conundrum now taking place in the San Francisco Bay. The California clapper rail — a bird found only in the bay — has come to depend on an invasive salt marsh cordgrass, hybrid Spartina, for nesting habitat. Its native habitat has slowly vanished over the decades, largely due to urban development and invasion by Spartina.

Their results showed that, rather than moving as fast as possible with eradication and restoration, the best approach is to slow down the eradication of the invasive species until restoration or natural recovery of the system provides appropriate habitat for the endangered species.

“There are endangered species that we want to protect, which are using the invasive species as a resource,” said co-author Sunny Jardine, who joined UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment last year as assistant professor of marine policy after earning her doctorate at UC Davis.