Updating the southern nonnative plant watch list: the future of NNIP Monitoring in the southThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The Southern Research Station (SRS) Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program began monitoring nonnative invasive plant (NNIP) species in 2001 in response to a growing desire to track potential forest health threats on United States forest land. The SRS-FIA NNIP program has produced significant results and contributed considerably to the understanding of the distribution and spread of NNIP in the southern United States. However, opportunities to improve NNIP monitoring in the South do exist. Specifically, the SRS-FIA program monitors only a select number of NNIP species. Given the importance of monitoring nonnative invasive plants in southern forests coupled with the emergence of newly detected plant invaders, the emergence of previously known invasive plants as problematic species, and incomplete knowledge of accurately predicting exotic invasives, the select list of NNIP required updating. The SRS-FIA watch list was thoroughly reviewed with respect to potential removal of some species from the list of monitored plants. For example, a recent analysis found that out of over 33,000 subplots, some plant species were detected on 3 or fewer subplots. While such small detection rates do not indicate a lack of needed monitoring, with limited resources, the SRS-FIA program must review the importance of monitoring such species in the future. The watch list must also reflect current knowledge and account for newly discovered important southern forest invaders. Both scientists and land managers have identified numerous regionally and nationally important nonnative invasive plant species not currently on the SRS-FIA watch list. A group of regional and national NNIP experts (internal and external to FIA) were assembled with the task of evaluating and updating the SRS-FIA watch list. The proposed new watch list for SRS-FIA is presented.