Climate change and range expansion of invasive plants
David Moeller, Plant & Microbial Biology
Computer-generated models make it possible for researchers to predict where invasive species are most likely to spread under future climate conditions. Machine learning techniques coupled with field survey data produce reliable maps that managers can use in early detection efforts.
MITPPC scientists are now creating predictive model maps of 9 invasive weed species on Minnesota’s Noxious Weed List to make early detection easier and improve the State’s eradication efforts.
The following species are on the State's "eradicate" list (except narrowleaf bittercress) and currently being studied in this project:
Palmer amaranth: a highly aggressive weed that threatens agricultural production
Narrowleaf bittercress: herbaceous annual invading forested areas along rivers in eastern Minnesota; considered an “early detection” species with limited distribution in the state and designated as a “prohibited, control” weed
Oriental bittersweet: a heavy, deciduous vine with red and yellow fruit; can girdle or collapse trees
Brown knapweed: a perennial plant with pink flower that has potential to outcompete native species; not yet common in Minnesota
Black swallow-wort: herbaceous perennial vine in the milkweed family, with seed pods and starlike flowers; infestations can grow to cover several acres of land
Grecian foxglove: tubular flowers sometimes planted in gardens, but invasive in prairies and savannas; all parts of the plant are highly toxic to humans, animals and livestock
Common teasel: prolific seed producer able to form dense monocultures; considered an “early detection” species with limited distribution in the state
Japanese hops: herbaceous vines that grow so rapidly they can smother other plants; only two confirmed instances in Minnesota to date, along the Root and Mississippi Rivers
Dalmatian toadflax: yellow, snapdragon-like flowers; this plant is a major problem in the western US but so far, few Minnesota infestations have been found
- What is the current distribution of the above 9 invasive species ?
- What is the predicted distribution of the above 9 invasive species for the current climate?
- What is the predicted distribution of the above 9 invasive species under climate change conditions?
The species distribution models will have direct value to managers and decision makers as they create plans for control and eradication throughout Minnesota.
David Moeller, primary investigator
Ryan Briscoe Runquist, post-doctoral associate
Thomas Lake, Ph.D. candidate
Peter Tiffin, co-investigator
News & Publications
- "Species distribution models throughout the invasion history of Palmer amaranth predict regions at risk of future invasion and reveal challenges with modeling rapidly shifting geographic ranges" (Nature Scientific Reports, 2019)
- "Climate change and forest herbs of temperate deciduous forests" The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America (Oxford University Press)