Submitted to: Invasive Plant Science and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/5/2010
Publication Date: 4/5/2011
Citation: Davies, K.W., Johnson, D.D. 2011. Are we "missing the boat" on preventing the spread of invasive plants in rangelands? Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management. 4:166-171.
Interpretive Summary: Exotic weeds are decreasing productivity, reducing biodiversity, and displacing native species around the world. Restoring native plant communities after weeds have invaded is often unsuccessful and expensive. We suggest that more efforts should be directed at preventing weed invasions. Preventing weeds is a more effective management strategy than trying to control already established weed infestations. Preventing weed invasions can be accomplished by increasing the ability of the existing plant community to resist invasion, reducing the dispersal of weed seeds, and eradicating new infestations. Combining prevention with other weed management practices will reduce the negative impacts of weeds. However, for weed prevention efforts to be successful, more resources need to be allocated for its implementation and improving its effectiveness. This information is useful for policy makers, land managers, and scientists concerned with the negative impacts of exotic weeds.
Technical Abstract: Invasive plants are negatively impacting the ecological and economic production of rangelands by reducing resource productivity, decreasing biodiversity, displacing native vegetation, and altering ecosystem processes and functions. However, despite these well known negative impacts, once invasive plants are regionally established, limited effort is directed at preventing their continued spread across rangelands. Most efforts are directed at restoration at specific locations while additional rangelands are invaded. Restoring native plant communities invaded by exotic plants is frequently unsuccessful, especially in more arid environments, and often too costly to apply at the scale required to make meaningful progress in reducing invasive plant populations relative to their expansion. Of the few prevention efforts being implemented most are a second priority to control and restoration efforts. Integrating strategies to prevent new infestations and restrict the expansion of existing populations in invasive plant management programs is critical to limiting the negative impacts of invasive plants in rangelands. However, we are “missing the boat” on this issue by not providing sufficiently developed and validated management actions. Limited information is available for developing management strategies to prevent the spread of invasive plants, though it has been suggested that land managers need to increase biotic resistance of desired plant communities, decrease invasive plant propagule pressure, and eradicate small incipient infestations to prevent the continued expansion of invasive plants. Thus, instead of scientifically validated methods developed to limit invasive plants spread, managers are often left with vague suggestions for preventing the continued spread of invasive plants. We suggest that if prevention is going to be successful, researchers are going to need to conduct more applied research to provide land managers with specific prevention strategies and quantify the benefits of various prevention strategies.