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Common practices for invasive species control and management include physical, chemical, and biological approaches. The first two approaches have clear limitations and may lead to unintended (negative) consequences, unless carefully planned and implemented. For example, physical removal rarely completely eradicates the targeted invasive species and can cause disturbances that facilitate new invasions by nonnative species from nearby habitats. Chemical treatments can harm native, and especially rare, species through unanticipated side effects. Biological methods may be classified as biocontrol and the ecological approach. Similar to physical and chemical methods, biocontrol also has limitations and sometimes leads to unintended consequences. Therefore, a relatively safer and more practical choice may be the ecological approach, which has two major components: (1) restoration of native species and (2) biomass manipulation of the restored community, such as selective grazing or prescribed burning (to achieve and maintain viable population sizes). Restoration requires well-planned and implemented planting designs that consider alpha-, beta-, and gamma-diversity and the abundance of native and invasive component species at local, landscape, and regional levels. Given the extensive destruction or degradation of natural habitats around the world, restoration could be most effective for enhancing ecosystem resilience and resistance to biotic invasions. At the same time, ecosystems in human-dominated landscapes, especially those newly restored, require close monitoring and careful intervention (e.g., through biomass manipulation), especially when successional trajectories are not moving as intended. Biomass management frequently uses prescribed burning, grazing, harvesting, and thinning to maintain overall ecosystem health and sustainability. Thus, the resulting optimal, balanced, and relatively stable ecological conditions could more effectively limit the spread and establishment of invasive species. Here we review the literature (especially within the last decade) on ecological approaches that involve biodiversity, biomass, and productivity, three key community/ecosystem variables that reciprocally influence one another. We focus on the common and most feasible ecological practices that can aid in resisting new invasions and/or suppressing the dominance of existing invasive species. We contend that, because of the strong influences from neighboring areas (i.e., as exotic species pools), local restoration and management efforts in the future need to consider the regional context and projected climate changes.
Projects that aim to control invasive species often assume that a reduction of the target species will increase native species abundance. However, reports of the responses of native species following exotic species control are relatively rare. We assessed the recovery of the native community in five tidal wetland locations in which we attempted to eradicate the invasive common reed [Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.]. We tested whether 3 yr of treatment were able to eradicate Phragmites and promote recovery of the native plant community. After 3 yr of treatment, Phragmites density declined sharply in all treated stands, though it was not eradicated in any of them. Native plant cover increased significantly in treated areas, and community composition, particularly in smaller stands, converged toward that of uninvaded habitat. Thus, even within the relatively short timescale of the treatments and monitoring, significant progress was made toward achieving the goals of controlling Phragmites infestations and promoting native biodiversity. There was a trend toward greater promise for success in smaller stands than larger stands, as has been observed in other studies. A greater emphasis on monitoring whole-community responses to exotic plant control, across a range of conditions, would enhance our ability to plan and design successful management strategies.
Common reed [Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.], an aggressive invader in North American wetlands, is likely to undergo a range expansion as the climate changes. Increased atmospheric [CO2] and temperature have been shown to cause morphological and physiological changes in many species, sometimes altering the way they respond to herbicides. To understand how climate-related environmental parameters may impact P. australis management, we grew two P. australis haplotypes (the Gulf Coast type and the Eurasian type) under ambient (400 ppm CO2, 32/21 C) or elevated (650 ppm CO2, 35/24 C) climate conditions. After 6 wk, the Gulf Coast type had reduced leaf area, increased stomatal conductance, and increased transpiration under the elevated conditions. The Eurasian type had lower Vcmax (the maximum carboxylation rate of Rubisco) and lower Jmax (the maximum electron transport rate of RuBP regeneration) under elevated climate conditions. Results likely reflected a greater impact of higher temperatures rather than increased [CO2], After the 6-wk period, plants were either treated with glyphosate (0.57 kg ae ha-1) or remained an untreated control. Data were collected 30 d after treatment (DAT) and 60 DAT to evaluate herbicide efficacy. Overall, the Gulf Coast type was less responsive to glyphosate applications under the elevated climate conditions than under current climate conditions. The lower leaf area of the Gulf Coast type in these climate conditions may have resulted in less herbicide interception and uptake. Glyphosate efficacy was less impacted by climate treatment for the Eurasian type than for the Gulf Coast type.
Miconia (Miconia calvescens DC) was introduced to the East Maui Watershed (EMW) a halfcentury ago with more than 25 yr of management recorded. Using a historical spatiotemporal data set, we constructed a leptokurtic dispersal kernel with 99% of progeny confined to within 549 m of the nearest maternal source and the remaining 1% dispersed out to 1,636 m. Seedbank persistence, based on postdated recruitment, displayed an exponential decay projecting extinction beyond 20 yr. These parameters are highly congruent to independent interpretations of M. calvescens in Australia and Tahiti. In a simulated stage matrix model, we projected management efforts to locally eradicate a small incipient propagule bank wherein optimal management was achieved with an annual harvest rate that eliminated all juvenile recruits before reaching maturity, until extinction. Based on current pricing for helicopter herbicide ballistic technology (HBT) operations, the optimal, variable cost to locally eradicate this incipient propagule bank was estimated to be less than US$42,000, with ∼90% of the effort searching for the most distant 1% of the progeny expended within the first 9 yr after the mature discovery. This variable cost was sensitive to seedbank size, recruitment rate, and dispersal range, but was most sensitive to harvest rates between suboptimal and excess. In a scenario prioritizing the upper region of EMW, we retroactively analyzed past HBT efforts eliminating satellite M. calvescens and determined that 27% of the total effort resulted in 87% of the total protection to this priority asset, with every US$1 invested potentially avoiding US $184 in future costs. Management outside the priority area was less economical, with returns in protection diminishing with distance from the priority upper region. Miconia calvescens is currently not eradicable in the EMW, and full containment of the invasion would require a substantial increase in stable, long-term funding. With limited resources, local eradication of satellite M. calvescens could be the most cost-effective alternative to protecting uninvaded areas prioritized for critical ecosystem functions.
Forage kochia [Bassia prostrata (L.) A. J. Scott] is competitive with annual weeds and has potential for use in reclamation of disturbed land. However, land managers are reluctant to use forage kochia in revegetation programs due to lack of understanding of its compatibility with or invasiveness in the native plant community. We conducted two greenhouse experiments, one to compare the competitive effect of forage kochia versus perennial grasses on growth of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) and one to study the effect of forage kochia on growth of native perennial grasses. In the first experiment, a single seedling of B. tectorum was grown with increasing neighbor densities (0 to 5 seedlings pot-1) of either forage kochia, crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertner × A. desertorum (Fisch, ex Link) Schultes; nonnative perennial grass], or thickspike wheatgrass [Elymus lanceolatus (Scribn. & - J. G. Sm.) Gould; native perennial grass]. Bromus tectorum growth was reduced moderately by all three perennial neighbors, but A. cristatum and E. lanceolatus had more effect on B. tectorum when compared with forage kochia. This experiment was repeated and similar results were observed. In the second experiment, forage kochia was grown with each of four native cool-season grass species: basin wildrye [Leymus cinereus (Scribn. & Merr.) Á. Löve], bluebunch wheatgrass [Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh) Á. Löve], E. lanceolatus, and western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á. Löve]. Forage kochia had no effect on height, tiller number, and aboveground biomass of native grasses. Similarly, native grasses did not show a significant effect on forage kochia seedlings. This experiment was also repeated, and forage kochia somewhat reduced the aboveground biomass of L. cinereus and P. spicata. However, all native grasses significantly reduced change in height, branching, and aboveground biomass of forage kochia. These results suggest that forage kochia interfered with B. tectorum seedling growth, but it showed little competitive effect on native grass seedlings.