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New Database Will Help Identify Potentially Invasive Plants in the United States

Photo of English ivy is a common invasive woody climbing plant. David J. Moorehead, University of GeorgiaEnglish ivy is a common invasive woody climbing plant. David J. Moorehead, University of GeorgiaSnapshot : In order to examine parameters of plant invasion success in the United States, scientists with the Forest Service's Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center are developing a database that compiles several key life history and genetic traits for more than 4,000 currently known introduced plant species. These data will allow for continental scale analyses of biological traits that influence species invasiveness and distribution in order to identify potentially invasive species, enable the prediction and prevention of future invasions, and support the development of management plans.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Guo, Qinfeng 
Research Location : United States (nationwide)
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 736


More than 4,000 plants have been introduced in the United States through accidental and intentional releases. Some of these species became invasive by out-competing native species for resources, thus threatening native communities and reducing species diversity. Developing a method to identify potentially invasive species from this pool of introduced plants will enable the prediction and prevention of future invasions. The database compiles currently known introduced plant species, including structure and form traits, pollination and dispersal mechanisms, chromosome number, habitat preferences, and geographical distribution. Forest Service researchers and their scientific collaborators have developed a database structure and have begun populating the database using a variety of sources, such as relevant existing databases, scientific literature, websites, and herbarium, or collection of dried plants, specimens. These data will aid in developing early warning systems, predictive models, risk assessments, and management plans for invasive plant species. The database will be web accessible for the public, land managers, scientists, and policymakers to use as a comprehensive resource of introduced plants in the United States.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Forest Inventory and Analysis
  • Northern Research Station (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science)
  • Pacific Northwest Research Station
  • Biota of North America Program
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Illinois State Museum
  • Nanjing University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Purdue University
  • South Florida Water Management District
  • Stanford University
  • Taiwan National University
  • US Geological Survey
  • USGS-EROS Data Center
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nevada-Reno
  • University of North Carolina Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • University of Washington
  • Western Carolina University