Invasive species threaten the health of native species by establishing in non-native habitats and outcompeting native species. The Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area (CMSWA) is 30,000 acres of native prairie and waterfowl habitat that is dedicated to the management of waterfowl and barrens habitat. Invasive species present in this area are inhibiting this management. Needlegrass (Hesperostipa spartea) and spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) are two species that thrive in the CMSWA. Needlegrass is native to this area and is a key species for reintroduction, while spotted knapweed is an invasive species. The objective of this study was to document and analyze the locations of both species to determine if they prefer the same habitat types and identify possible sites of reintroduction for needlegrass and areas of vulnerability to invasion by spotted knapweed. Locations of both species were recorded and, using MaxEnt a species distribution model, the key environmental predictors of the locations of both species were identified. Results show that needlegrass habitat suitability was highest within 500 m of the nearest road, in the south-central and north-central areas of the CMSWA, away from the nearest major road, in sand/gravel, and igneous, metamorphic, and volcanic bedrock. Habitat suitability for spotted knapweed was highest at a slope of 20 degrees or steeper, within 500 m of the nearest road, in the southern part of the CMSWA, and at an elevation of 950 feet and greater. These results can help with management of both species on this property and beyond.
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Vol. 92 • No. 3