USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics: Invasive Species

Research Strategy

PSW Research Station's invasive species research strategy aims proactively to identify non-native and native organisms that pose a threat to California and Pacific island ecosystems through potential introductions. Methods are applied to assess risks, determine likely pathways for introduction, and describe ways through which introductions may be blocked.

Important elements include development and delivery of tools for detection, accurate and rapid identification, and early response, and for mitigation and rehabilitation should establishment occur. Terrestrial and aquatic plants, pathogens, invertebrates, and vertebrates are addressed, but greatest emphasis is currently given to plants in Hawaii and forest pathogens in California.

What Is an Invasive Species?

"Invasive species" is a term used by scientists and land managers around the world to describe plants, animals, and other organisms that are both nonnative to an ecosystem and that cause--or are capable of causing--environmental, economic, or human harm. Invasive species often compete so successfully in new ecosystems that they displace native species and disrupt important ecosystem processes. Plants, mammals, birds, fish, insects, and diseases all can be invasive, though not all introduced species act invasively. Often, species become invasive when they compete aggressively for resources and when they lack natural enemies in the new ecosystem.

What Effect Can Invasives Have?

People depend on healthy functioning ecosystems for many of our basic survival needs -- like fresh air; clean water; and harvestable resources, like wood. When invasives become established in a landscape, they can strongly affect how ecosystems function and can negatively impact ecosystems in a variety of ways. Left unchecked, many invasive species will outcompete native species, eventually replacing them entirely.

Research Emphasis Areas