Each natural community faces ecological threats that could change its defining features, leading to its decline.
Non-Native Invasive Plants
Dense-rooted colonies of native mountain laurel help keep the numbers of non-native invasive competitors down. The Oak – Beech / Heath Forest has shallow, acidic, and drought-prone soils, which only a few hardy non-native invasive plants can handle. The harms caused by non-native invasive plants include competition with natives for soil nutrients, sunlight, and pollinators, and degradation of animal habitat. (* indicates non-native)
- English ivy* (vine)
- Japanese stiltgrass* (herb)
- linden arrow-wood* (shrub)
- Norway maple* (tree)
- oriental bittersweet*(vine)
- sweet mock orange* (shrub)
- wine raspberry* (shrub)
Diseases, Pests, and Other Threats
Some current and potential ecological threats for the Oak – Beech / Heath Forest in Rock Creek Park include:
- Excessive deer browse: decimation of oak seedlings and shrubs
- Viburnum leaf beetle (potential): damage to mapleleaf viburnum
- Gypsy moth: damage to oaks
- Sudden oak death (potential): damage to oaks
- Beech bark disease (potential): damage to American beech
- Dogwood anthracnose: decline of flowering dogwood
Learn more about some of the ecological threats to the natural communities of Rock Creek Park.
See Making a Difference to learn about some of the ways park staff are addressing these threats—and ways you can help, too.