Climate Change and Plant Invasions: Restoration Opportunities Ahead?

Bradley, B.A., M. Oppenheimer and D.S. Wilcove

Publication Date:

Rather than simply enhancing invasion risk, climate change may also reduce invasive plant competitiveness if conditions become climatically unsuitable. Using bioclimatic envelope modeling, we show that climate change could result in both range expansion and contraction for five widespread and dominant invasive plants in the western United States. Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) and tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) are likely to expand with climate change. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) are likely to shift in range, leading to both expansion and contraction. Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is likely to contract. The retreat of once intractable invasive species could create restoration opportunities across millions of hectares. Identifying and establishing native or novel species in places where invasive species contract will pose a considerable challenge for ecologists and land managers. This challenge must be addressed before other undesirable species invade and eliminate restoration opportunities.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Global Change Biology