Assessing plants for invasiveness

I’ve been steeped in the nuances of assessments of plant invasiveness the last few months as the Maryland Invasive Plant Advisory Committee develops an assessment for non-native terrestrial plants that grow or could grow in Maryland.  Most assessments look at a plant’s ability to establish and spread and the impact the plant can have at the population, community and ecosystem levels.  Some also include economic impacts including impacts to trade, agriculture, and built environments.  When it comes to establishment, geography and climate play an important role in determining where a species can survive.  A new paper published in Biological Invasions models how climate and human influences affect the distribution of Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica.  It finds that human influences extend the predicted range based solely on climate.  So if you want to figure how much risk a plant might have of invading your region, consider both climate change and distribution by people.

Carolyn M.Beans, Francis F. Kilkenny and Laura F. Galloway (2012). Climate suitability and human influences combined explain the range expansion of an invasive horticultural plant. Biological Invasions, online 10 Apr 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s10530-012-0214-0

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