Prioritising naturalised plant species for threat assessment: Developing a decision tool for managers
Authors: Lesley Hughes, Paul Downey, Daisy Englert Duursma, Rachael Gallagher, Stephen Johnson, Michelle Leishman, Erin Roger, Peter Smith and Jackie Steel
This research project has produced a web-based decision-support tool (www.weedfutures.net) that provides end-users with the ability to interrogate individual profiles for 292 non-native species and interactively map emerging weed threats for regions or management units of interest. Through integrating modelling, spatial analysis and species trait information it was possible to evaluate how the habitat suitability for each species is likely to change in the future under different climate scenarios. Individual species profiles were created by compiling key trait data, observation records and maps of current habitat suitability and projected change in suitability across Australia. Overall, the southerly coastal areas and Tasmania have the highest risk of invasibility, under both current and modelled future (2035) climates.Under a future scenario (RCP 8.5 2035) at a national scale, 3% of the species were classified as having a high risk of invasibility, 81% as having a medium risk, and 16% as having low risk. Such assessments provide significant economic benefits by targeting control to high priority naturalised, but not yet invasive plants before they become significant problem weeds.