Prosopis: a global assessment of the biogeography, benefits, impacts and management of one of the world's worst woody invasive plant taxa.
Invasive species cause ecological, economic and social impacts and are key drivers of global change. This is the case for the genus Prosopis (mesquite; Fabaceae) where several taxa are among the world's most damaging invasive species. Many contentious issues ('conflicts of interest') surround these taxa, and management interventions have not yet sustainably reduced the negative impacts. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that drive invasions and shape management actions, and to compare the effectiveness of different management approaches. This paper presents a global review of Prosopis, focusing on its distribution, impacts, benefits and approaches to management. Prosopis was found to occur in a 129 countries globally and many more countries are climatically suitable. All areas with naturalized or invasive Prosopis species at present are suitable for more taxa and many Asian and Mediterranean countries with no records of Prosopis are bioclimatically suitable. Several Prosopis species have substantial impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and local and regional economies in their native and even more so in their invasive ranges; others provide multiple benefits to local communities. Management efforts are underway in only a small part of the invaded range. Countries where more research has been done are more likely to implement formal management than those where little published research is available. Management strategies differ among countries; developed nations use mainly mechanical and chemical control whereas developing nations tend to apply control through utilization approaches. A range of countries are also using biological control. Key gaps in knowledge and promising options for management are highlighted.