News — JerseyLiving

A toad in knee-high grass cautiously eyes Lauren Abderhalden as she takes a cell-phone shot of a plant thriving just outside the headquarters of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in Mahwah

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Using mobile app iNaturalist, Abderhalden identifies the slender-leafed plant as autumn olive, an invasive species that, like the nearby stand of Japanese knotweed, crowds out natives such as sugar maple saplings and black raspberry bushes. “Invasive plant species are probably the second biggest destroyer of biodiversity after habitat destruction in New Jersey,” says Abderhalden, a sophomore at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She has been volunteering with the Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force program since her junior year at Kinnelon High School. Abderhalden is one of some 200 volunteers and interns who annually survey more than 1,800...

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