National Park Service

Cumberland Piedmont Network (CUPN)

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Invasive Species Early Detection Monitoring (ISED)

Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) is a native invasive species that infests and causes large scale mortality to pines. Photo by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552, Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) is a native invasive species that infests and causes large scale mortality to pines. Photo by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

Forest Pests Resource Briefs

Invasive Species Resource Briefs

Invasive Species Protocols

Reporting Form

Invasive Species App

Invasive Plant App

Links to Partner Websites

Links to State ISED Sites

For more information contact:
Clare Bledsoe


Early detection monitoring of incipient invasive plants, animals and diseases was ranked among the top priorities in the Cumberland Piedmont Network (CUPN) in the vital signs selection process due to the clear identification of, and concern about, the effects these organisms can have on park ecosystems. The known ecological impacts of invasive species include loss of threatened and endangered species, altered structure and composition of terrestrial and aquatic communities, and reduction in overall species diversity. In addition, alteration of ecosystem processes occurs, such as the disruption of natural succession, prevention of seedling establishment of native plants, disruption of native insect-plant associations, alteration of natural fire regimes, hybridization with native plant species resulting in altered genomes, and introduction of reservoirs for harmful plant pathogens.

While long-term changes associated with invasive species are being monitored through other protocols (see Protocol Development Summary (PDS) – Forest, Woodland, Shrubland, and Riparian Vegetation Monitoring), it is also critical to catch new populations of exotic species early in their invasion of new and sensitive areas. Only when invasions are caught early will the chance of eradication remain high. In a few instances, early detection and eradication efforts have been successful at either eliminating the potential invasive species or containing it. A system of early detection and rapid response in the CUPN would provide managers with a valuable management tool for coping with these pests.

While the use of remote sensing and predictive models for early detection has been considered in the CUPN having more knowledgeable "eyes and ears in the field" (a.k.a. Surveillance Monitoring) is one applicable approach for the entire CUPN that will be developed. The focus of early detection monitoring in the CUPN will begin with surveillance monitoring of invasive plant and forest pest species. We will also emphasize educating all field crews, cooperators, resource managers, volunteers and visitors on invasive species identification. Finally we will provide a framework for reporting and disseminating information on potential infestations.

Preliminary Monitoring Objectives

  1. Detect incipient populations (i.e., small or localized) and new introductions of these target non-native species before they become established in areas of high and moderate management significance.
  2. Develop, maintain, and distribute appropriate target species identification information for all CUPN field crews, cooperators, resource managers and volunteers.
  3. Develop and maintain a list of target "watch" species that occur in localized areas of parks, are extremely rare, or are not currently present within a park, but have the potential to cause major ecological or economic problems if they were to become established.
  4. Develop and maintain an early detection tracking system.
  5. Target limited management resources toward highest priority risks.

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Management Applications

The Cumberland Piedmont Network and Appalachian Highlands Network have a recently established Exotic Plant Management Team stationed at Blue Ridge Parkway. This team is currently evaluating parks for invasive plant inventory and control issues. Through the efforts of this team, combined with reports from vegetation communities monitoring that describe which natural communities are most threatened by exotic plants, priorities will emerge that will allow the CUPN program to focus on higher priority species that pose the most significant threat.

For example, natural vegetation communities without a current exotics problem could be monitored for early detection of new invasions. With a grid system of plots already established across the network parks, another approach could be to evaluate the number of plots infected over time, so that parks will have a better understanding of the problem.

Another example, involves mapping areas with exotic problems to determine spread over time. Some parks have mapped some exotics, but the initial mapping baseline would have to be established for most. This effort would coordinate well with EPMT goals. In consultation with the EPMT, SERO, and Servicewide IM Program, protocols are in progress.

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Last Updated: February 24, 2017 Contact Webmaster