Invasive species are rarely considered when planning for connectivity across the landscape, despite the fact that they can often be major ecological determinants of biodiversity and species persistence, especially of endemic flora and fauna. Integrating the management of invasive species into the design and planning of protected networks can potentially deliver landscape level advantages by altering interspecies interactions for the benefit of local, native species. In their new publication in Biological Invasions, Glen, Pech and Byrom offer several observations and suggestions for incorporating invasive species management into conservation planning to create a more functional landscape connectivity.
1. Invasive species management can deliver landscape level benefits by affecting populations outside of local target areas (ex. excluding predators from a local area often benefits the wider region). It’s important to understand the spatial relation of species invasion, and to determine whether targeted control can be limited to a smaller region or must be applied at a larger scale.
2. Although areas with invasive species may be excluded from plans when designing a protected network, it can be beneficial to explicitly include invaded plots as “off-reserve” areas because any existing management practices to control the invasive species can greatly benefit the species within the protected network.
3. Connectivity in the landscape can be hindered by the presence of invasive species by limiting dispersal or increasing mortality of dispersers. Management of invasive species can remove the harmful influence of invaders in the matrix and restore functional connectivity through the matrix. Invasive species are a hindrance almost exclusively in the matrix, as outside of aquatic systems, there are no good examples of corridors promoting the presence of invasive species.
The authors also address recent advances in methodology to integrate invasive species management practices that may be helpful for managers planning for reserves or protected areas. By incorporating new approaches in both metapopulation models and landscape connectivity models, targeted management can be highly efficient and maximize the benefits of controlling for invasive species.