The role of the Forest Service in nonnative invasive plant researchThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In many of our Nation's wildlands, invasive nonnative plants contribute to the endangerment of native species and lead to other severe ecological and financial consequences. Projected trends of increasing human populations and associated development and globalization will contribute to increases in the already high rates of introductions of nonnative plant species. Changes in climate are likely to alter species distributions, favoring the expansion of some nonnative species and contributing to the imperilment of additional native species. Declining oil supplies may also place pressure on wildlands for the production of sustainable supplies of small-diameter trees or other nonwoody biofuels. Given these trends, Forest Service Research and Development needs to be strategic in addressing invasive species issues in public and private forests and rangelands. We urgently need to prioritize both known and potential future invasive species and determine which ecosystems are most vulnerable to invasion. Quantitative risk analyses, assessment of critical pathways, plus data on effects of both the invaders and control methods on native biodiversity will aid in this prioritization process. Such lists will inform decisionmaking on potential preventative measures to keep potentially invasive plants out and also as a guide regarding which species to attempt to control and where to control them. Multidisciplinary research teams and quantitative monitoring protocols will facilitate the development of tools that both measure and minimize effects associated with invasive species and account for the stage of invasion. These tools will also need to address multiple stressors, including natural disturbances, current management practices such as livestock grazing and timber harvesting and thinning, and human-induced disturbances, such as exotic insect forest infestations and global climate change. Such knowledge will improve our ability to manage our forests and rangelands as ecosystems that are more resilient to future invasions and increase our success in restoring degraded systems.