|Photo by Dan Clark, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org|
This species is a very tall (up to 5 meters) showy grass that looks superficially from a distance like Phragmites australis. It is a threat to the pine rockland communities in South Florida, creating monocultures that significantly increase fire frequency and occurrence (Fusco et al, 2019).
The interesting thing is that Google Street View has a feature which allows you to view the same spot across the years, and I used this feature to view the same location all the way back to 2008, when Google Street View itself was only 1 year old.
It was amazing to see how the area seemed pristine in 2008 and 2011, only to suddenly be infested with rows of N. reynaudiana by 2016!
It seemed that the vegetation closer to the road had either died or been removed (whether due to the grass itself or to some other natural or artificial event), and in their place the invasive grass had taken over. Instead of a tangled web of trees and shrubbery, by 2016 many of the images showed a more open and airy scenery.
I placed the images side by side in order to compare them better, and I have to say that following the spread of invasive species using high level distribution maps is quite useful, but being able to view the past and see how the species spread on the ground gives the process an immediacy and drama that cannot be matched.