Integrating spread dynamics and economics of timber production to manage Chinese tallow invasions in southern U.S. forestlands.
Economic costs associated with the invasion of nonnative species are of global concern. We estimated expected costs of Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small) invasions related to timber production in southern U.S. forestlands under different management strategies. Expected costs were confined to the value of timber production losses plus costs for search and control. We simulated management strategies including (1) no control (NC), and control beginning as soon as the percentage of invaded forest land exceeded (2) 60 (Low Control), (3) 25 (Medium Control), or (4) 0 (High Control) using a spatially-explicit, stochastic, bioeconomic model. With NC, simulated invasions spread northward and westward into Arkansas and along the Gulf of Mexico to occupy ∼1.2 million hectares within 20 years, with associated expected total costs increasing exponentially to ∼$300 million. With LC, MC, and HC, invaded areas reached ∼275, 34, and 2 thousand hectares after 20 years, respectively, with associated expected costs reaching ∼$400, $230, and $200 million. Complete eradication would not be cost-effective; the minimum expected total cost was achieved when control began as soon as the percentage of invaded land exceeded 5%. These results suggest the importance of early detection and control of Chinese tallow, and emphasize the importance of integrating spread dynamics and economics to manage invasive species.