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Invasive Plants’ Success Depends on Native Species Richness and Biomass

Photo of A non-native grass invades a forest in the southeastern United States. Researchers are identifying and measuring factors that contribute to habitat invasibility, degree of invasion, and species invasiveness. U.S. Forest Service - Bugwood.orgA non-native grass invades a forest in the southeastern United States. Researchers are identifying and measuring factors that contribute to habitat invasibility, degree of invasion, and species invasiveness. U.S. Forest Service - Bugwood.orgSnapshot : For better control and management of invasive plant species, research must uncover the factors that contribute to habitat invasibility, degree of invasion, and species invasiveness as well as how these factors can be measured. Forest Service scientists are collecting and comparing extensive data on habitat characteristics and invasibility from diverse ecosystems in U.S. forests and other ecosystems around the world to identify these factors.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Guo, Qinfeng 
Research Location : United States (nationwide)
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 905

Summary

Researchers have commonly believed that more diverse habitats are less likely to be invaded due to niche occupation by species present, but recent evidence shows that invasibility is a much more complex issue and may be determined by multiple factors. To identify these factors, scientists at the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center scientists are collecting and comparing data on various habitat characteristics and invasibility from diverse ecosystems in U.S. forests and other ecosystems around the world. Researchers' recent observations show that species-rich communities, those with many different species, are invasible if they are in early stages of succession (development over time) and biomass is low. A plant community's ability to resist species invasions may be dependent upon a threshold level of both species richness and abundance, below which the importance of species interactions is only a weak force. Current research efforts are targeted at U.S. forest ecosystems, but future comparisons among the major community types within and among geographic regions can provide new insights into invasion biology to assist scientists, resource managers, policymakers, and the general public in managing and controlling invasive species.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Forest Inventory and Analysis
  • Northern Research Station (Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science)
  • Pacific Northwest Research Station
  • Auburn University
  • Biota of North America Program
  • Brown University
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
  • North Carolina State University
  • Purdue University
  • South Florida Water Management District
  • Taiwan National University
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • USGS-EROS Data Center
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of Hong Kong
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nevada-Reno, University of Georgia
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • University of Washington

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