Invasive Species

Gauging the Threat, Assessing Control Options

Invasive species are impacting wilderness areas across America and reducing the natural values for which this land is conserved. Invasive species can change community structure, composition, and ecosystem processes as well as alter fire regimes. Wilderness managers are faced with determining whether strategies to control or eradicate invasives should be undertaken and which strategies would be effective in their wilderness areas. They must weigh control options to determine if trammeling on wilderness is worth the protection of the natural qualities of the land they manage. But there is no single source for managers to use to determine how much a threat specific invasives are, are there control strategies available, how effective are they, cost considerations, and if there are impacts to other components of wilderness areas by using certain strategies.

We intend to gather a team of invasive experts from across the U.S. to collect information about major plant, animal, insect and disease invasives threatening wilderness areas and strategies to control them. The team would describe each species and characterize its invasive traits (growth rate, reproduction rate, dispersal mechanism and rate of dispersal, phenotypic plasticity, ecological competence and whether it is an ecological generalist or not). It would identify ecosystem types most at risk from specific invasives. Also, it would catalog control strategies (mechanical, chemical, biologic, genetic, and cultural) and describe other impacts these control strategies have on ecosystems. It would include basic information about the cost of these control strategies and provide an assessment of their potential success rate.