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Examining the Spread of Invasive Species Using Data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program

Photo of Map of invasives across the Northern U.S.  Cassandra Kurtz, USDA Forest ServiceMap of invasives across the Northern U.S. Cassandra Kurtz, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Invasive plant species threaten the integrity of our ecosystems and cost billions of dollars in damages and removal costs annually. Forest Service scientists have prepared a series of research notes, each featuring an invasive plant species that is monitored on Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots across 24 states in the northeastern and Midwestern United States.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kurtz, Cassandra 
Research Location : Northeast and Midwest
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 612


Invasive plant species have spread into many forest ecosystems, threatening diversity and habitat quality. Invasive plants of regional concern have been monitored on inventory plots in the northern region since 2005. On the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots measured across the region from 2009 through 2013, invasive plants were found to occur on many of the randomly located plots ranging from about 10 percent in Maine and New Hampshire to 94 percent in Ohio and Iowa. Research reports have been created for multiflora rose, garlic mustard, and reed canarygrass. Analysis of these data shows trends for various invasive species of concern within the region. Current analyses have included examining the distance to the nearest road, number of invasive plants, and trees per acre on plots with and without invasive plant species. These reports are designed to educate people on the selected invasive plants and offer information of their local and regional distribution (maps), abundance, and spread. An understanding of where invasive plants occur, and the extent to which they are present, helps identify risk potential and allows land managers to make more informed management decisions. Additional reports will be created for the commonly occurring invasive species monitored on FIA plots.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Mark Hansen - USDA Forest Service