Human-mediated dispersal via rural road maintenance can move invasive propagules

Emily S.J. Rauschert, David Mortensen, Steven Michael Bloser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although preventing introduction is the best way to avoid invasive species problems, the dynamics of spread into new areas are not well understood. Invasive plant presence has frequently been associated with roads, but quantification of the mechanisms behind this phenomenon is lacking. Although some invasive plants may experience more rapid natural dispersal in a roadside habitat, scaling up this increase often cannot account for regional spread. Typically human activities drive long-distance dispersal, which is critical for predicting large-scale spread rates. We followed the movement of seeds by routine rural road maintenance as a potential factor explaining rapid regional spread of invasives. We found that 23.5% of seeds were not moved by road grading, 33.1% moved short distances (between 0 and 10 m), 41.8% moved intermediate distances (10–50 m), and very few moved long distances (more than 50 m, 1.6%). The furthest movement observed was 273 m. Nearly 1/3 of seeds were moved moderate distances; this intermediate distance dispersal is likely a key driver of the presence of invasives along the entirety of many roadsides and poses a large threat to the forest interior. Propagule spread via grading is a fairly stochastic process; nonetheless, a small but potentially important portion of propagules are moved long distances, accelerating spread rates. We discuss these results from the perspective of the rapid invasion of Microstegium vimineum in central Pennsylvania, USA. To slow the spread of seeds via road maintenance, managers should consider shortening grading passes, inspecting vehicles for invasive propagules, and otherwise ensuring that seeds are not transported long distances. Greater attention should be paid to human aided dispersal of invasive plant propagules particularly in light of an increasing forest roads network associated with logging and natural gas development in some parts of the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2047-2058
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume19
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Fingerprint

rural roads
seed
roads
seeds
Microstegium vimineum
road
propagation materials
forest roads
natural gas
stochastic processes
propagule
stochasticity
invasive species
shortenings
logging
managers
human activity
road maintenance
habitat
habitats

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Rauschert, Emily S.J. ; Mortensen, David ; Bloser, Steven Michael. / Human-mediated dispersal via rural road maintenance can move invasive propagules. In: Biological Invasions. 2017 ; Vol. 19, No. 7. pp. 2047-2058.
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Human-mediated dispersal via rural road maintenance can move invasive propagules. / Rauschert, Emily S.J.; Mortensen, David; Bloser, Steven Michael.

In: Biological Invasions, Vol. 19, No. 7, 01.07.2017, p. 2047-2058.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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