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15 March 2022 Crown area predicts total biomass for Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, an invasive shrub in Florida
Melissa C. Smith, Paul D. Pratt, Min B. Rayamahji
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Predictive models of aboveground plant biomass derived from nondestructive measurements greatly assist in monitoring and surveying natural areas. Where invasive species are concerned, these models can provide insights to the impacts of invasions and efficacy of management strategies. Furthermore, tools that facilitate a rapid inventory allow for multiple assessments of impact over larger areas. Downy rose myrtle [Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk.] is an invasive shrub in Florida and Hawaii that is native to southeastern Asia. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa was imported into Florida in the early 20th century through the ornamental plant trade and produces pink flowers and edible purple globe fruits. This woody shrub is particularly problematic in the understory of Florida's mesic pine forests, where it forms dense, impenetrable thickets. To characterize the populations more accurately in Florida and build predictive equations for biomass that could be used to inform control methods, we established a network of sites from which we harvested individuals over 3 yr. Based on these measurements, we built a simple predictive equation for R. tomentosa dry biomass. Crown area strongly associates with biomass in a linear relationship (P < 0.001, R2 = 0.82). Fruit production is highly variable, but positively correlates to plant height in individuals that have reached reproductive size (plants below 1 m generally do not produce fruit), albeit weakly (P < 0.002, R2 = 0.27). We demonstrate here that two simple measurements—height and crown area—can accurately predict biomass and, to some degree, fruit production for R. tomentosa in Florida and may guide control methods by focusing on removing individuals larger than 1 m tall.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Weed Science Society of America.
Melissa C. Smith, Paul D. Pratt, and Min B. Rayamahji "Crown area predicts total biomass for Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, an invasive shrub in Florida," Invasive Plant Science and Management 15(1), 61-66, (15 March 2022).
Received: 28 December 2021; Accepted: 18 February 2022; Published: 15 March 2022
Downy rose myrtle
invasive tropical shrubs
plant allometry
predictive biomass models
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