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Invasive Species in Riparian Habitats of Washington: Using Species Distribution Models to Guide Monitoring Efforts Public Deposited

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  • Riparian ecosystems provide critical habitat for a broad diversity of aquatic and terrestrial species. However, due to their connectivity along river corridors, and the tendency for people to build roads, infrastructure, and other settlements next to rivers, riparian ecosystems are vulnerable to colonization by invasive plant and animal species. Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is vital for monitoring and managing novel invasions as well as population expansions of known invasive species. Species distribution modeling (SDM) can be used to identify high priority locations for monitoring to catch early colonization by invasive species when there is still time for complete eradication. This case study targeted 8 invasive plant and animal species of concern to forest managers that are associated with riparian habitats. A literature review was completed to understand the biological and ecological factors that influence potential species distributions. Species distribution models were created for the 8 plant and animal species using Maxent program and bioclimatic variables. Generally, model results show high predicted suitability in the Puget Sound for all 8 species, with lower predicted suitability in the northeastern portion of the state. This paper demonstrates how SDM can be used to identify potential species distributions of invasive species thereby allowing forest managers to identify new infestations and plan cost-effective and efficient early detection monitoring efforts. With swift eradication efforts managers can minimize the impact that new infestations of invasive species have on riparian forests.
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