Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arkansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arkansas Project

A National-Scale Early Detection And Ecosystem Service Impact Assessment Tool For Invasive Terrestrial Plants

May 2023 - August 2027


Participating Agencies

  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Intiative

Globally, invasive species cause trillions of dollars in damages to ecosystem services, including agricultural production and biodiversity, and these damages will only increase as climate change progresses. The U.S. has adopted early detection and rapid response (EDRR) policies to prevent spread and establishment of invasive species, but implementing a consistent, national-scale EDRR approach has been stymied due to difficulties in (i) accurately predicting where and when invasive species will spread and (ii) consistently estimating invasive species’ impacts on ecosystem services. To overcome these difficulties, our project’s overall goal is to develop and implement a consistent, national-scale EDRR tool that can be adapted to most terrestrial invasive plants. To achieve this goal, we will 1) develop novel early detection methods that predict invasive species’ spread and overcome key modeling limitations, 2) implement our early detection methods on the model system of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), one of the “world’s worst weeds” and current invader in the U.S., 3) estimate cogongrass impacts on ecosystem services across a gradient of invasion, and 4) use early detection model predictions to map losses in ecosystem services driven by cogongrass invasion under different climate change scenarios, and 5) publish computer code and instructional vignettes to facilitate our EDRR tool’s application for other terrestrial invasive plant species. By synergizing early detection models and ecosystem service impacts, our products will empower stakeholders and private landowners to prioritize proactive management actions at local, regional, and national scales and maximally conserve ecosystem services like biodiversity, timber, and livestock production.

Presentations Presentation Date
Ivory II A, Donovan VM, Wonkka CL, Roberts CP. Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) impacts on ecosystem services in Southeastern US forests. University of Florida Graduate Student Symposium 2024. Gainesville, FL. March 2024