Impact and management of invasive plant species

Date: 

2008 to 2011

Summary: 

Invasive plants change plant communities and ecosystem function across North America. My work assesses how changes in plant communities and management of invasive plants using biological control affects a wide range of native biota.

Issue: 

Invasive plants replace native species, increasing the threat to native biota, including rare and endangered species, and may affect ecosystem services. To better manage these threats we need to understand which species, or which traits of species, are the major threats to ecosystems. This will allow us to focus management efforts on the most damaging species.

Response: 

We have used the growth and survival of aquatic invertebrates and larval amphibians as bioindicators for the effect of native and introduced species on local wetland food webs. We have studied the response both in common gardens as well as in the field to compare responses in different venues.

Impact: 

Our results demonstrate that changes in aquatic plant communities have strong effects on aquatic invertebrates and amphibian larvae. Aquatic plants and litter from terrestrial sources are the structuring forces determining local food webs. We did not find a major difference between native and introduced species in their effects, but believe that plant traits (such as nitrogen content and secondary chemistry) are traits responsible for the results we obtained. These results question the current dogma for management of species instead of the effect of species on ecosystems. Once management agencies begin to understand and work with these implications, a major shift in the way plant communities are managed is expected.

Submitted by: 

  • Blossey, Bernd

Researchers involved: 

  • Cohen, Jillian
  • Dietrich, Jeremy
  • Maerz, John
  • Blossey, Bernd

International focus: 

  • Georgia
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

New York State focus: 

  • Delaware