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Ecological Applications


Improved understanding of the spatial dynamics of invasive plant species may lead to more effective land management and reduced future invasion. Here, we identified the spatial extents of nonnative cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in the north central Great Basin using remotely sensed data from Landsat MSS, TM, and ETM+. We compared cheatgrass extents in 1973 and 2001 to six spatially explicit landscape variables: elevation, aspect, hydrographic channels, cultivation, roads, and power lines. In 2001, Cheatgrass was 10% more likely to be found in elevation ranges from 1400 to 1700 m (although the data suggest a preferential invasion into lower elevations by 2001), 6% more likely on west and northwest facing slopes, and 3% more likely within hydrographic channels. Over this time period, cheatgrass expansion was also closely linked to proximity to land use. In 2001, cheatgrass was 20% more likely to be found within 3 km of cultivation, 13% more likely to be found within 700 m of a road, and 15% more likely to be found within 1 km of a power line. Finally, in 2001 cheatgrass was 26% more likely to be present within 150 m of areas occupied by cheatgrass in 1973. Using these relationships, we created a risk map of future cheatgrass invasion that may aid land management. These results highlight the importance of including land use variables and the extents of current plant invasion in predictions of future risk.




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