Landscape Connectivity and Seed Dispersal Characteristics Inform the Best Management Strategy for Exotic Plants
Minor, Emily S.
Gardner, Robert H.
PublisherEcological Society of America
MetadataShow full item record
Exotic plant invasions have triggered environmental and economic problems throughout the world. Our ability to manage these invasions is hindered by the difficulty of predicting spread in fragmented landscapes. Because the spatial pattern of invasions depends on the dispersal characteristics of the invasive species and the configuration of suitable habitat within the landscape, a universal management strategy is unlikely to succeed for any particular species. We suggest that the most effective management strategy may be an adaptive one that shifts from local control to landscape management depending on the specific invader and landscape. In particular, we addressed the question of where management activities should be focused to minimize spread of the invading species. By simulating an invasion across a real landscape (Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, USA), we examined the importance of patch size and connectivity to management success. We found that the best management strategy depended on the dispersal characteristics of the exotic species. Species with a high probability of random long-distance dispersal were best managed by focusing on the largest patches, while species with a lower probability of random long-distance dispersal were best managed by considering landscape configuration and connectivity of the patches. Connectivity metrics from network analysis were useful for identifying the most effective places to focus management efforts. These results provide insight into invasion patterns of various species and suggest a general rule for managers in National Parks and other places where invasive species are a concern.
Antietam National Battlefield