Analysis Identifies Most Worrisome Invasive Plants that May Arrive Soon

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst recently posted an article discussing new research, partially-funded by the Northeast CASC, that examines the spread of invasive plants in the Northeast.

Read the original news story posted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, here.

Many non-native or invasive plants have the ability to shift their ranges as a result of changing regional climates. These habitat shifts sometimes create “hotspots”, such as those observed in the Northeast U.S., which enable the establishment and spread of invasive plants. To address this concern, University of Massachusetts Amherst ecologists evaluated the potential impacts of 100 different invasive plants expected to expand into New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. They then paired down this list of plants to identify five high-impact, range-shifting, regional invasive plants that managers may want to prioritize in their invasive species management planning. These species include the giant reed (pictured below) and the bur-chervil, and are plants which may impede the proliferation of multiple native species in the Northeast. Understanding the potential impacts of range-shifting invasive species could help inform management decisions and proactive monitoring protocols for alleviating or preventing negative environmental impacts sustained by the regional spread of invasive plants.

“From an invasive species perspective, the only time you can get a win is if you stop it early,” says senior author and invasive plant ecologist Bethany Bradley, co-principal investigator of the Northeast CASC at UMass Amherst.

Lead author Bethany Bradley is also a co-director of the Northeast CASC’s Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network, whose members recently surveyed natural resource managers and found that range-shifting invasive species represent one of their top priorities.

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Image: Giant reed (Arundo donax)

Researchers walk along a fence constructed of giant reed grass that separates agricultural fields. Credit: Elizabeth A. Sellers, USGS. (public domain)