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Predicting Invasive Plants in Florida Using the Australian Weed Risk Assessment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Doria R. Gordon*
Affiliation:
The Nature Conservancy, and Courtesy Professor
Daphne A. Onderdonk
Affiliation:
Department of Botany, P.O. Box 118526, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
Alison M. Fox
Affiliation:
Department of Agronomy, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, IFAS, P.O. Box 110500, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0500
Randall K. Stocker
Affiliation:
Department of Agronomy, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, IFAS, P.O. Box 110500, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0500
Crysta Gantz
Affiliation:
Department of Agronomy, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, IFAS, P.O. Box 110500, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-0500
*
Corresponding author's E-mail: dgordon@tnc.org

Abstract

Screening tools that effectively predict which nonnative species are likely to become invasive are necessary because of the disproportionate ecological and economic costs associated with invaders. We tested the effectiveness of the Australian Weed Risk Assessment system (WRA) in distinguishing plant species that are major invaders, minor invaders, and noninvaders in Florida. The test included 158 annuals and perennials in six growth forms from 52 families in 27 orders. The WRA with a secondary screen met all hypothesized accuracy levels: it correctly rejected 92% of test species that have been documented to be invasive in Florida and correctly accepted 73% of the noninvaders. The incorrect rejection of noninvaders was 8% with the remaining 19% of noninvaders falling into the “evaluate further” outcome. Only 10% of the 158 species required further evaluation. Invaders of natural areas and agricultural systems were identified with equal accuracy. Receiver operating characteristic analysis demonstrated high separation of invaders from noninvaders. The degree to which the WRA is precautionary may be adjusted by altering the cutoff scores that define the “accept, evaluate further,” and “reject” outcomes. This approach could be adopted in Florida as a screening mechanism to reduce importation of new invaders.

Type
Research Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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References

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