Early detection of invasive plants: principles and practices

Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5162
By: , and 



Invasive plants infest an estimated 2.6 million acres of the 83 million acres managed by the National Park Service (NPS) in the United States. The consequences of these invasions present a significant challenge for the NPS to manage the agency’s natural resources “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” More NPS lands are infested daily despite diligent efforts to curtail the problem. Impacts from invasive species have been realized in most parks, resulting in an expressed need to control existing infestations and restore affected ecosystems. There is a growing urgency in the NPS and other resource management organizations to be proactive. The NPS I&M Program, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Status and Trends Program, compiled this document to provide guidance and insight to parks and other natural areas engaged in developing early-detection monitoring protocols for invasive plants. While several rapid response frameworks exist, there is no consistent or comprehensive guidance informing the active detection of nonnative plants early in the invasion process. Early-detection was selected as a primary focus for invasive-species monitoring because, along with rapid response, it is a key strategy for successful management of invasive species. Eradication efforts are most successful on small infestations (that is less than 1 hectare) and become less successful as infestation size increases, to the point that eradication is unlikely for large (that is greater than 1,000 hectares) populations of invasive plants. This document provides guidance for natural resource managers wishing to detect invasive plants early through an active, directed monitoring program. It has a Quick-Start Guide to direct readers to specific chapters and text relevant to their needs. Decision trees and flow charts assist the reader in deciding what methods to choose and when to use them. This document is written in a modular format to accommodate use of individual chapters. It may also be approached in a linear fashion, as a sequence of steps leading to a comprehensive approach to early-detection. Our primary audience comprises resource professionals within the National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program’s networks of parks, but we think that the knowledge and experience captured in this document is more broadly applicable to include other natural areas professionals. We have chosen to emphasize the technical side of invasive species early-detection because this is the arena in which most professionals need more guidance. This approach includes but is not limited to complex techniques that may seem to be just beyond the budgetary and (or) time-bound grasps of some resource professionals. Nonetheless, we have provided low-cost options.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Early detection of invasive plants: principles and practices
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2012-5162
DOI 10.3133/sir20125162
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description xviii, 193 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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