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Forest Roads Facilitate the Spread of Invasive Plants

  • David A. Mortensen (a1) (a2), Emily S. J. Rauschert (a1) (a2), Andrea N. Nord (a1) (a2) and Brian P. Jones (a3)

The distribution and abundance of invasive species can be strongly influenced by habitat suitability and by corridors that facilitate dispersal. We synthesize results from a large-scale invasive plant survey with a patch-scale expansion experiment. The large-scale survey involved transects up to 250 m away from of all roads in a 32,000 ha forest. The patch experiment involved initiating invasions in different habitat types (roadside, wetland, disturbed, and intact forests), and then fitting statistical models to patch spread rates. The large-scale survey highlighted the importance of roads in predicting the presence of invasive plants, also revealing that one invasive plant, Microstegium vimineum, has spread rapidly since its purported introduction in 1994. The patch-scale experiments focused on Microstegium and demonstrated that spread rates are higher in roadsides than in forested and wetland patches, even in the absence of major disturbances. These results highlight the importance of landscape features when designing prevention and management practices aimed at limiting invasive plant abundance and spread.

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Invasive Plant Science and Management
  • ISSN: 1939-7291
  • EISSN: 1939-747X
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