Risk assessment for invasive exotic plants using multi-criteria risk models

Lindsey Marie Shartell


Invasive exotic plants have altered natural ecosystems across much of North America. In the Midwest, the presence of invasive plants is increasing rapidly, causing changes in ecosystem patterns and processes. Early detection has become a key component in invasive plant management and in the detection of ecosystem change. Risk assessment through predictive modeling has been a useful resource for monitoring and assisting with treatment decisions for invasive plants.

Predictive models were developed to assist with early detection of ten target invasive plants in the Great Lakes Network of the National Park Service and for garlic mustard throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These multi-criteria risk models utilize geographic information system (GIS) data to predict the areas at highest risk for three phases of invasion: introduction, establishment, and spread. An accuracy assessment of the models for the ten target plants in the Great Lakes Network showed an average overall accuracy of 86.3%. The model developed for garlic mustard in the Upper Peninsula resulted in an accuracy of 99.0%. Used as one of many resources, the risk maps created from the model outputs will assist with the detection of ecosystem change, the monitoring of plant invasions, and the management of invasive plants through prioritized control efforts.