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Invasive Plants, Pests and Pathogens
Invasive plants, animals and pathogens cause significant changes in natural ecosystems. Exotic organisms compete with and predate on native species, directly change local environments and alter ecosystem structure and process. In recent history, exotic pests and pathogens, such as the chestnut blight, gypsy moth, and beech bark disease have exerted a profound effect on New England forests, including the near elimination of several important trees. Today, an increasing number of invasive organisms are part of the New England landscape and act as key stressors on the composition and functioning of native ecosystems. In some cases, these organisms disrupt beneficial interactions among native species, such as obligate mutualisms between native plants and soil fungi. In other cases, entire forest types and ecosystem services are threatened by forest insect pests.