Ecological Threats

Each natural community faces ecological threats that could change its defining features, leading to its decline.

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Rock Creek Park

Non-Native Invasive Plants

Autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) has silvery scales on leaf undersides, stems, and red fruit.
Photographer: Flickr user Ronald Kielb.
The coarse, dry, sandy loam of the Chestnut Oak / Mountain Laurel Forest is not as hospitable to as many non-native invasive plants as some of the other natural communities in Rock Creek Park. Besides, dense colonies of native mountain laurel can make it difficult for all but the most hardy weeds to compete for root space and sunlight here. (* indicates non-native)

However, where trails cut through this community, or where it borders residential neighborhoods, extra sunlight and rogue seeds can make their way into this community, giving other plant species a foothold. This is part of what is called edge effect.

Diseases, Pests, and Other Threats

Current and potential ecological threats for the Chestnut Oak / Mountain Laurel Forest in Rock Creek Park include these:

Click here to learn more about some of the ecological threats to the natural communities of Rock Creek Park

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