What Drives the Spread of Invasive Plants?


A forest is invaded by many non-native plants. Scientists often measure the number of invasive plant species to assess invasions, but species richness is just one factor that contributes to the spread of invasive plants. To gain insight into the drivers of invasion, university and Forest Service researchers used Forest Inventory and Analysis data to map and compare invasions in eastern and western forests of the United States. They modeled richness and prevalence of invasive species, and considered habitat quality and invasion vulnerability as well as the number of propagules produced by invasive plants (known as propagule pressure). Study results, recently published in Diversity and Distributions, reveal that eastern forests are more heavily invaded with varying impacts throughout the region and suggest that propagule pressure and habitat invasibility are key drivers whose contributions to large-scale invasions may differ depending on the stage of invasion. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Qinfeng Guo and North Carolina State University cooperating scientist Kevin Potter are among the study's co-authors. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A forest in western North Carolina is invaded by many non-native plants. Photo by Stephanie Worley Firley, U.S. Forest Service.


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