Prioritizing terrestrial invasive species for research

photographic collage of 5 invasive species including dwarf mistletoe, brown marmorated stink bug, common tansy, spotted wing drosophila, and common buckthorn
Left to right: dwarf mistletoe, brown marmorated stink bug, common tansy, spotted wing drosophila, common buckthorn

Project phases

Phase 1

Project information

Research project title: Terrestrial Invasive Species Prioritization

Taxa: Plants, pathogens, invertebrates

Species: n/a

Project status: Completed

Funding: $36,126


The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants & Pests Center (MITPPC) is committed to fair, accurate and responsive assessment of the invasive species landscape in our state in determining where research can make a difference. A prioritized funding model helps make the greatest impact with finite resources. 

The MITPPC prioritization method relies upon an Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) often used in complex decision-making scenarios. It uses 17 criteria to rank priority of an invasive species for consideration, including factors like environmental and economic impact, ability to establish and spread and proximity to the state. The most highly rated  weeds, pathogens, and invertebrates are eligible topics for MITPPC research funding. 

The movement of invasive species calls for a timely, thorough review of emerging priorities like Palmer amaranth and jumping worms. This project assesses up to 50 species of plants, pests and pathogens as recommended by Minnesotans to update the prioritized list used for grant-making. 

Phase 2

Project information

Research project title: Expanding and Strengthening the Prioritization of Terrestrial Invasive Species in Minnesota

Taxa: Plants, pathogens, invertebrates

Species: n/a

Project status: In progress

Funding: $151,601


This project will focus on the prioritization process used by MITPPC to identify terrestrial invasive species (TIS) for funding: 

  • Researchers will continue to evaluate TIS submitted for consideration among MITPPC’s top prioritized species and conduct the biennial update of the prioritization.
  • Researchers will develop a more systematic format for stakeholders to suggest TIS for consideration by MITPPC. This format is intended to increase transparency and consistency and encourage engagement with a broader community of stakeholders.
  • Lastly, researchers will develop and compare climate suitability models for ~25 TIS across a range of model complexities. Among the decision criteria MITPPC uses to evaluate the risk a TIS may pose to Minnesota is potential climate suitability. The climate in Minnesota can be an important deterrent to many TIS establishing or becoming widespread. There are many different methods for forecasting climate suitability, ranging from those based on simple thresholds (e.g., USDA plant hardiness zones) to those based on more complex algorithms (e.g., statistical correlation, process-oriented, etc.). Evidence is presently lacking to inform whether a certain method(s) may be more useful for risk assessment applications, such as the MITPPC species evaluations. This project will analyze trade-offs between model accuracy and resource investment (e.g., time, required expertise) to recommend the most practical modeling approach for MITPPC evaluations.


News and media

Research team

Amy Morey | Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center | principal investigator

Lab or other website

MITPPC research priorities