Research shows the impact of invasive plants can linger long after eradication

May 18, 2017, Cambridge University Press
Credit: Cambridge University Press

It is easy to assume that getting rid of invasive plants will allow a local ecosystem to return to its natural state, with native vegetation flourishing once again. But a new study featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management shows the impact of weedy invaders can linger for years.

Researchers from the University of Wyoming and Virginia Tech explored what happened after they eradicated Japanese stiltgrass, one of the worst invasive species in the Eastern U.S. Their three-year study found that removal of the species failed to result in the restoration of the local ecosystem.

While some soil nutrients began to shift towards an uninvaded state, they never fully recovered. In addition, vegetation became less like the original native plant community. Many of the that emerged after Japanese stiltgrass was removed were themselves from weedy species, creating a new wave of control challenges.

"Fortunately, newly established invasive populations don't produce the same level of lingering legacy effects as those that are long established," says researcher Daniel R. Tekiela, Ph.D., of the University of Wyoming. "That makes early eradication an important imperative."

When an invasive plant is well-established and early eradication is no longer an option, researchers say it is important to carefully assess the management techniques used. Simply removing the invader could result in undesirable, long-term changes to the resident .

Explore further: Removing invasive plant species shown to improve outlook for native species

More information: Daniel R. Tekiela et al, Invasion Shadows: The Accumulation and Loss of Ecological Impacts from an Invasive Plant, Invasive Plant Science and Management (2017). DOI: 10.1017/inp.2017.3

Related Stories

First analysis of invasive plant impacts worldwide

May 20, 2011

This week the scientific journal Ecology Letters has published a synthesis of the ecological impacts of invasive plants worldwide. This global analysis has been based on more than one thousand studies that in total describe ...

Invasive tropical legume alters soil nitrogen dynamics

October 14, 2016

As global change continues to be studied, the scientific community needs quantitative assessments to inform mitigation decisions and predict outcomes. Because restoration and management plans designed to address global change ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.