Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Using long-term datasets to study exotic plant invasions on rangelands in the western United States.

Abstract

Invasions by exotic species are generally described using a logistic growth curve divided into three phases: introduction, expansion and saturation. This model is constructed primarily from regional studies of plant invasions based on historical records and herbarium samples. The goal of this study is to compare invasion curves at the local scale to the logistic growth curve using long-term datasets. Five datasets ranging 41-86 years in length were recovered from five sites in four western states. Data for the following seven exotic species were analyzed using regression analysis to evaluate fit to a non-linear sigmoidal logistic curve: crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), dwarf alyssum (Alyssum desertorum), cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana), halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus), Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) and tumble mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum). A greater variety of curve shapes was documented by long-term datasets than those published based on herbaria sampling. Only two species from three different sites and with three different data types met the criteria for fitting a logistic curve. Many of the other species/location combinations were characterized by sporadic spikes and crashes. The general lack of fit with the model may be the results of the complex interactions that drive vegetation change in rangeland environments.