Skip to main content Accessibility help

Invasive Species Control Optimization as a Dynamic Spatial Process: An Application to Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) in Arizona

  • İ. Esra Büyüktahtakin (a1), Zhuo Feng (a2), Aaryn D. Olsson (a3), George Frisvold (a4) and Ferenc Szidarovszky (a5)...


Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) is a fire-prone, African bunchgrass spreading rapidly across the southern Arizona desert. This article introduces a model that simulates buffelgrass spread over a gridded landscape over time to evaluate strategies to control this invasive species. Weed-carrying capacity, treatment costs, and damages vary across grid cells. Damage from buffelgrass depends on its density and proximity to valued resources. Damages include negative effects on native species (through spatial competition) and increased fire risk to land and buildings. We evaluate recommended “rule of thumb” control strategies in terms of their ability to prevent weed establishment in newly infested areas and to reduce damage indices over time. Two such strategies—potential damage weighting and consecutive year treatment—used in combination, provided significant improvements in long-term control over no control and over a strategy of minimizing current damages in each year. Results suggest specific recommendations for deploying rapid-response teams to prevent establishment in new areas. The long-run population size and spatial distribution of buffelgrass is sensitive to the priority given to protecting different resources. Land managers with different priorities may pursue quite different control strategies, posing a challenge for coordinating control across jurisdictions.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author's E-mail:


Hide All
Betancourt, JL (2007) From fireproof desert to flammable grassland: buffelgrass invasion in the Sonoran Desert. EOS Trans 88(52) Abstract B34A-02. in Proceedings of the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Tucson, AZ AGU
Bowers, JE, Bean, TM, Turner, RM (2006) Two decades of change and distribution of exotic plants at the Desert Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona. Madroño 53:252263
Burquez-Montijo, A, Miller, ME, Martinez-Yrizar, A (2002) Mexican grasslands, thornscrub, and the transformation of the Sonoran Desert by invasive exotic buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare). Pages 126146 in Tellman, B, ed. Invasive Exotic Species in the Sonoran Region. Tucson University of Arizona Press and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Büyüktahtakin, IE, Feng, Z, Frisvold, G, Szidarovszky, F (2013) Invasive species control based on a cooperative game. Appl Math 4:5459
Büyüktahtakin, IE, Feng, Z, Olsson, AD, Frisvold, G, Szidarovszky, F (2011) A dynamic model of controlling invasive species. Comput Math Appl 6(9):33263333
Cacho, O, Wise, R, Hester, S, Sinned, J (2004) Weed Invasions: To Control or Not to Control? Biddeford, ME University of New England Working Paper Series in Agricultural and Resource Economics 2004-14
Clarke, PJ, Latz, PK, Albrecht, DE (2005) Long-term changes in semi-arid vegetation: Invasion of an exotic perennial grass has larger effects than rainfall variability. J Veg Sci 16:237248
Clinton, WJ (1999) Executive Order 13112 of February 3, 1999: Invasive Species. Fed Regist 64(25):6183
Epanchin-Niell, RS, Wilen, J (2012) Optimal spatial control of biological invasions. J Environ Econ Manag 63(2):260270
Esque, TC, Schwalbe, CR, Haines, DF, Halvorson, WL (2004) Saguaros under siege: invasive species and fire. Desert Plants 20:4955
Frid, L, Holcombe, T, Morisette, JT, Olsson, AD, Brigham, L, Bean, T, Betancourt, JL, Bryan, K (2013) Using state and transition simulation modeling to account for imperfect detection in invasive species management. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 6(1):3647
Frid, L, Wilmshurst, JF (2009) Decision analysis to evaluate control strategies for crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) in Grasslands National Park of Canada. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 2:324336
Grimsrud, KM, Chermak, JM, Hansen, J, Thacher, JA, Krause, K (2008) A two-agent dynamic model with an invasive weed diffusion externality: an application to yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.) in New Mexico. J Environ Manage 89:322335
Halvorson, WL, Guertin, P (2003) USGS Weeds in the West Project: Status of Introduced Plants in Southern Arizona Parks: Factsheet for Pennisetum ciliare (L.). Tucson, AZ U.S. Geological Survey/Southwest Biological Science Center. Accessed April 9, 2013
Hunter, M (2011) Assessment and Guidelines for Determining Effectiveness and Longevity of Buffelgrass Treatments in Southern Arizona: Report to Saguaro National Park. Accessed July 22, 2013
Jackson, J (2005) Is there a relationship between herbaceous species richness and buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris)? Austral Ecol 30:505517
Jetter, KM, DiTomaso, JM, Drake, DJ, Klonsky, KM, Pitcairn, MJ, Sumner, DA (2003) Biological control of yellow starthistle. Pages 225241 in Sumner, DA, ed. Exotic Pests and Diseases: Biology and Economics for Biosecurity. Ames, IA Iowa State University Press
Levin, SA, Muller-Landau, HC, Nathan, R, Chave, J (2003) The ecology and evolution of seed dispersal: a theoretical perspective. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:575604
Martin, B, Hanna, D, Korb, N, Frid, L (2007) Decision analysis of alternative invasive weed management strategies for three Montana landscapes. Vancouver, BC ESSA Technologies, Helena, MT: Nature Conservancy 34 p
McDonald, CJ, McPherson, GR (2011) Fire behavior characteristics of buffelgrass-fueled fires and native plant community composition in invaded patches. J Arid Environ 75:11471154
McDonald, CJ, McPherson, GR (2013) Creating hotter fires in the Sonoran Desert: buffelgrass produces copious fuels and high fire temperatures. Fire Ecol 9(2):2639
Moody, ME, Mack, RN (1988) Controlling the spread of plant invasions: the importance of nascent foci. J Appl Ecol 25:10091021
Nemhauser, GL, Wolsey, LA (1988) Integer and Combinatorial Optimization. New York J. Wiley. Pp. 355367
[NISC] National Invasive Species Council. (2001) Meeting the Invasive Species Challenge: National Invasive Species Management Plan. Washington, DC NISC
Olsson, AD, Betancourt, JL, Crimmins, MA, Marsh, SE (2012) Constancy of local spread rates for buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare L.) in the Arizona upland of the Sonoran Desert. J Arid Environ 87:136143
Rogstad, A, ed. (2008) Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Strategic Plan: A Regional Guide for Control, Mitigation, and Restoration. Tucson, AZ Buffelgrass Working Group. 204 p
Rogstad, A, Bean, TM, Olsson, AD, Casady, GM (2006) Fire and invasive species management in hot deserts: resources, strategies, tactics, and response. Rangelands 31:613
Smith, M, Sanchirico, J, Wilen, J (2009) The economics of spatial-dynamic processes: applications to renewable resources. J Environ Econ Manag 57:104121
Stevens, J, Falk, DA (2009) Can buffelgrass invasions be controlled in the American Southwest? using invasion ecology theory to understand buffelgrass success and develop comprehensive restoration and management. Ecol Restor 27:417427
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. (2010) Losing Ground: the War on Buffelgrass in the Sonoran Desert: Oversight Field Hearing. 111th Congress. April 10, 2010, Serial 111-50. Tucson, AZ Committee on Natural Resources
Wadsworth, RA, Collingham, YC, Willis, SG, Huntley, B, Hulme, PE (2000) Simulating the spread and management of alien riparian weeds: are they out of control? J Appl Ecol 37(Suppl1):2838
Wilen, JE (2007) Economics of spatial-dynamic processes. Am J Agric Econ 89:11341144
Wolsey, LA (1998) Integer Programming. New York Wiley-Interscience. 6 p


Invasive Species Control Optimization as a Dynamic Spatial Process: An Application to Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) in Arizona

  • İ. Esra Büyüktahtakin (a1), Zhuo Feng (a2), Aaryn D. Olsson (a3), George Frisvold (a4) and Ferenc Szidarovszky (a5)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed