Local Versus Landscape Predictors of Invasive Plant Colonization and Abundance in Midwestern Forests

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We need ecologically-based, accurate forecasting tools to reduce environmental, social, and economic risks posed by invasive species. However, the predictive power of ecological theory is frequently limited by context- and scale-dependence. Despite this, We use various kinds of historic data to characterize the colonization and invasion of 164 forested sites in Wisconsin by: 2 shrubs (Rhamnus cathartica and Lonicera morrowii, tatarica, and L. x bella), 3 forbs (Hesperis matronalis,Alliaria petiolata, Galeopsis tetrahit), and 1 graminoid (Poa pratensis). Our main goal is to determine whether colonization and spread are determined by the biology of the invasive species, site properties, or landscape context. Individual species colonized between 5.5% (P. pratensis) and 36.6% (R. cathartica and A. petiolata) of all sites between 1950 and 2000. In terms of colonization and invasiveness, the 6 species respond differently with respect to site and landscape determinants. For example, Poa pratensis responds to exurban sprawl, while Rhamnus cathartica and Lonicera spp. colonize areas with a high degree of urbanization within 5 km of sites. We can use these results to predict which species are most likely to invade and what sites (based on site properties and landscape context) are most likely to be invaded in the future. Variation in the factors affecting successful colonization and establishment among species underscores the importance of specific species and site characteristics. Predictions about invasive plants as a category remain limited to qualitative description.


Presented at the 90th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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