Predicted range expansion of Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera) in forestlands of the southern United States.
Aim: We present an integrated approach for predicting future range expansion of an invasive species (Chinese tallow tree) that incorporates statistical forecasting and analytical techniques within a spatially explicit, agent-based, simulation framework. Location: East Texas and Louisiana, USA. Methods: We drew upon extensive field data from the US Forest Service and the US Geological Survey to calculate spread rate from 2003 to 2008 and to parameterize logistic regression models estimating habitat quality for Chinese tallow within individual habitat cells. We applied the regression analyses to represent population spread rate as a function of habitat quality, integrated this function into a logistic model representing local spread, and coupled this model with a dispersal model based on a lognormal kernel within the simulation framework. We simulated invasions beginning in 2003 based on several different dispersal velocities and compared the resulting spatial patterns to those observed in 2008 using cross Mantel's tests. We then used the best dispersal velocity to predict range expansion to the year 2023. Results: Chinese tallow invasion is more likely in low and flat areas adjacent to water bodies and roads, and less likely in mature forest stands and in pine plantations where artificial regeneration by planting seedlings is used. Forecasted invasions resulted in a distribution that extended from the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana northward and westward as much as 300 km, representing approximately 1.58 million ha. Main conclusions: Our new approach of calculating time series projections of annual range expansion should assist land managers and restoration practitioners plan proactive management strategies and treatments. Also, as field sampling continues on the national array of FIA plots, these new data can be incorporated easily into the present model, as well as being used to develop and/or improve models of other invasive plant species.