Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) constitutes an invasive species detrimental to wetland habitats in North America. To estimate areas vulnerable to it in Kansas, we modeled the potential geographic distribution of the species by using current records in the state, remotely sensed vegetation-index data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), and the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Prediction (GARP). Models built using only localities from northeastern Kansas (the origin of invasion within the state) consistently predicted test localities in other parts of the state with negligible omission. An additional analysis using records from all counties where the species is known showed a similar prediction. All models indicated suitable conditions for purple loosestrife in much of eastern and central Kansas, as well as in riverine and irrigated areas in the western part of the state. The approach presented here might prove useful for assessing the regional colonization potential of other newly detected invasive species before other studies can be undertaken.
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