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Are We “Missing the Boat” on Preventing the Spread of Invasive Plants in Rangelands?

  • Kirk W. Davies (a1) and Dustin D. Johnson (a2)

Invasive plants are negatively affecting the ecological and economic production of rangelands by reducing resource productivity, decreasing biodiversity, displacing native vegetation, and altering ecosystem processes and functions. However, despite these well-known negative effects, once invasive plants are regionally established, limited effort is directed at preventing their continued spread across rangelands. Most efforts are directed at restoration at specific locations while additional rangelands are invaded. Restoring native plant communities invaded by exotic plants is frequently unsuccessful, especially in more arid environments, and is often too costly to apply at the scale required to make meaningful progress in reducing invasive plant populations relative to their expansion. Of the few prevention efforts being implemented, most are a second priority to control and restoration efforts. Integrating strategies to prevent new infestations and restrict the expansion of existing populations in invasive plant management programs is critical to limiting the negative effects of invasive plants in rangelands. However, we are “missing the boat” on this issue by not providing sufficiently developed and validated management actions. Limited information is available for developing management strategies to prevent the spread of invasive plants, although it has been suggested that land managers need to increase biotic resistance of desired plant communities, decrease invasive plant propagule pressure, and eradicate small incipient infestations to prevent the continued expansion of invasive plants. Thus, instead of scientifically validated methods developed to limit the spread of invasive plants, managers are often left with vague suggestions for preventing the continued spread of invasive plants. We suggest that if prevention is going to be successful, researchers are going to need to conduct more applied research to provide land managers with specific prevention strategies and quantify the benefits of various prevention strategies.

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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
  • URL: /core/journals/invasive-plant-science-and-management
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