Improved data reveals new patterns of exotic plant invasions in the United States.
Extensive ongoing research on biotic invasions around the world constantly increases data availability and improves data quality. New research in the United States shows how using improved data from previous studies on the establishment of exotic plant species changes the understanding of patterns of species naturalization, biological invasions, and their underlying mechanisms. The study was published in the open access journal NeoBiota.
Over the centuries, people brought uncounted numbers of nonnative or exotic plant species to the United States for a range of purposes. Usually cultivated for food or ornamental purposes, most of these plants are considered “naturalized” when they reproduce and sustain populations over many generations without direct help from humans. Many others were introduced accidentally.
“About 10 percent of naturalized plant species usually become invasive, and more may be so over time” says Qinfeng Guo, research ecologist with the Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and lead author of the article. “This means that they begin to spread considerable distances from the parent plants, often crowding or shading out native plant populations.”