The effects of treatment and management history on the control of old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), and punktree (Melaleuca quinquenervia).
To successfully reduce overall invasive plant cover over time, an effective treatment plan must be established such that mortality exceeds new colonization and resprouting growth rates. However, few evaluations of the effects of long-term, consistent treatment at different intervals exist. We report the effects of treatment intensity on Old World climbing fern [Lygodium microphyllum (Cav.) R. Br.], Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia Raddi), and punktree [Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. F. Blake] as part of a large restoration project that has been underway for 6 yr in Telegraph Swamp at Babcock Ranch Preserve, a 27,520-hectare (68,000-acre) conservation area in Florida, USA. We found that at the end of the 6-yr period, for all three species, average live cover did not exceed 5% across all transects. In addition, dead foliar cover was higher than live cover for all three invasive plants, indicating progress toward restoration goals. We also found that percent live cover of L. microphyllum was significantly reduced only after four or more treatments were applied during the 6-yr period, as opposed to when three or fewer treatments were applied. Reductions in percent cover of live foliage were apparent only when the treatments were applied more often than biennially, as opposed to less often than biennially. Additionally, we found higher L. microphyllum cover in clear-cut and replanted cypress stands than in natural stands. Based on these findings, we conclude that treatments applied four or more times, or more often than biennially, were more effective at significantly reducing advanced invasions of L. microphyllum, S. terebinthifolia, and M. quinquenervia, especially where previous management activities or their effects may have increased the cover of invasive plants.