Invasive species are shifting their ranges in response to climate change. The Northeast has been identified as a ‘hotspot’ where up to 100 warm-adapted, range-shifting invasive plants could establish before 2050. But, effectively monitoring and managing for 100 species is an impractical and unrealistic strategy. Writing in Biological Invasions, NE CASC researchers have recently identified a more practical number of species to manage by using an IUCN recommended impacts assessment called the Environmental Impacts Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT). They found papers describing ecological and socio-economic impacts in the scientific literature and scored species as high, medium, or low risk based on reported impacts on ecosystems. Additionally, they refined the high-impact species list to focus only on those reported to affect ecosystems found in the Northeast (e.g., forests and wetlands). Ultimately, they identified five high-priority species: Anthriscus caucalis, Arundo donax, Avena barbata, Ludwigia grandiflora, and Rubus ulmifolius. The EICAT assessment provides a transparent and repeatable method of evaluating invasive species impacts.
Take Home Points
- We know the identity of invasive species likely to shift into our region, which creates a rare opportunity to prevent invasions before they arrive
- Impact assessments (like EICAT) offer a way to prioritize limited management resources towards the most impactful species
- Low and medium priority species could also be high risk - impacts assessments are only as complete as available impacts studies in the scientific literature
Read their article, "Supporting proactive management in the context of climate change: prioritizing range-shifting invasive plants based on impact," in Biological Invasions.