Effective control of aquatic invasive species in tropical Australia.
Often ecologists and natural resource managers can easily access data on invasive species occurrence across a region. Yet, collecting species abundance data over a large area is arguably more important for decision making, but inherently costly, so methods which can provide robust information at low-cost are particularly valuable. Studies of species distribution often use occurrence data to build models of the environmental niche. Environmental suitability derived from such models may be used to predict the potential distributions of species. The ability of such models to predict spatial patterns in abundance have recently been demonstrated. Here we tested the relationship of environmental suitability with local abundance of an aquatic invasive species, olive hymenachne (Hymenachne amplexicaulis) in the Wet Tropics of Australia. Ordinary least squares and quantile regressions revealed a positive relationship between environmental suitability and local abundance of olive hymenachne. We expand on this and use the relationship between environmental suitability and local abundance to quantify the effectiveness of management (reduction in local abundance) under four different management investments. We show that the upper limit of abundance can be used to evaluate management effectiveness based on varying investments, and that ongoing management is the most effective at reducing local abundance. We discuss implications of this in addressing important problems in invasive species management.