National Park Service

Sonoran Desert I&M Network (SODN)

Invasive Exotic Plants

Invasive exotics graphic

Inventory Reports

Protocol Summary

Invasive Exotic Plants


Invasive exotic plants represent one of the most significant threats to natural resources in national parks. Invasive plants are a concern because they are able to reproduce prolifically, rapidly colonize new areas, displace native species, and alter ecosystem processes across multiple scales. Established invasive exotic plants may exist in small populations for long periods, making detection difficult. However, if discovered in these early stages, control efforts are likely to cost less and achieve higher success rates than after a species has become more widespread. Therefore, it is critical to both detect exotic plants during this time-lag between introduction and subsequent rapid expansion, and to implement a rapid management response.

Parks Monitored

Casa Grande Ruins NM, Chiricahua NM, Coronado NMem, Fort Bowie NHS, Gila Cliff Dwellings NM, Montezuma Castle NM, Tonto NM, Tumacácori NHP, Tuzigoot NM

Monitoring Objectives

  1. To detect the initial occurrence for any of a subset of high-priority species in areas of high and low invasion probability (e.g., along road and trails versus interior areas).
  2. To determine changes in the status and trend (density, abundance, or extent) of a subset of high-priority species in areas of high and low invasion probability.
  3. To determine changes in species composition of a subset of high-priority species in areas of high and low invasion probability, taking into account any management treatments that occurred between sampling intervals.

Potential Measures

  • Detection of initial "new" occurrences of invasives.
  • Determination of status and trends in known populations: presence, abundance, frequency, and/or distribution.

Management Applications

Information gathered from this monitoring will:

  • Detect exotic plants early in the invasive cycle, when eradication is most effective, economical, and ecologically sound.
  • Support a long-term, ecosystem-wide strategy for controlling invasive plant species.
  • Provide park managers with access to systematically collected information that enables them to be well-informed about the status of ecosystems and prioritize dedication of limited resources to invasive-plant control efforts.

Protocol Development Status

This protocol has been drafted and submitted for peer review.

Status & Trends

This protocol is currently in development; no status or trend information is currently available.

Project Cooperators

Project Contacts

Sarah Studd, Ecologist (Vegetation), Sonoran Desert Network
Tomye Folts-Zettner, Ecologist, Southern Plains Network

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster