What Effects Does Kudzu Have on the Ecosystem?

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In addition to overtaking and replacing native plants in an ecosystem, kudzu can alter the nitrogen balance of the soil and release dangerous ozone into the atmosphere. The vines also release volatile organic compounds into the air that can exacerbate smog when combined with other particulate pollutants. Kudzu's root systems can also drain an ecosystem of available water, leaving the few plants that survive its presence parched and dying.

Kudzu was originally introduced to the United States from Asia as an ornamental plant, and later as a tool for halting soil erosion. It quickly proved to be one of the most invasive plant species ever discovered, taking over much of the Southeastern United States. In the decades since its introduction, kudzu has spread as far north as Pennsylvania and New York and has even been found in Maine.

Kudzu also has an indirect effect on animal species in the regions it is invading. By killing and taking over native plants, kudzu redefines the environment, removing natural sources of food and habitats for species and forcing them to relocate or adapt.

Many different techniques have been tried to halt kudzu's spread, from manually removing or burning the vines to chemical and even biological agents.