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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

New Publication: Prioritizing Range-Shifting Invasive Plants Based on Impact

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
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Invasive species are shifting their ranges in response to climate change.  The Northeast has been identified as a ‘hotspot’ where up to 100 warm-adapted, range-shifting invasive plants could establish before 2050. But, effectively monitoring and managing for 100 species is an impractical and unrealistic strategy. Writing in Biological Invasions, a team of NE CASC researchers led by Bethany Bradley has recently identified a more practical number of species to manage by using an IUCN recommended impacts assessment called the Environmental Impacts Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT). They found papers describing ecological and socio-economic impacts in the scientific literature and scored species as high, medium, or low risk based on reported impacts on ecosystems.  Additionally, they refined the high-impact species list to focus only on those reported to affect ecosystems found in the Northeast (e.g., forests and wetlands).  Ultimately, they identified five high-priority species: Anthriscus caucalis, Arundo donax, Avena barbata, Ludwigia grandiflora, and Rubus ulmifolius. The EICAT assessment provides a transparent and repeatable method of evaluating invasive species impacts.  

Take Home Points

  • We know the identity of invasive species likely to shift into our region, which creates a rare opportunity to prevent invasions before they arrive
  • Impact assessments (like EICAT) offer a way to prioritize limited management resources towards the most impactful species
  • Low and medium priority species could also be high risk - impacts assessments are only as complete as available impacts studies in the scientific literature

Read their article, "Supporting proactive management in the context of climate change: prioritizing range-shifting invasive plants based on impact," in Biological Invasions.

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