Just recently, Conservation Corridor posted notice of a new paper in Biological Invasions by Glen, Pech, and Byrom about invasive species and connectivity, and now there’s another paper on the topic that delves more into the subject of invasive plants and conservation linkages (or corridors). In her new Ecography paper entitled “Invasive plants in conservation linkages: a conceptual model that addresses an underappreciated conservation issue,” author Marit L. Wilkerson provides conceptual guidance for research on the abiding concern of plant invasion in linkages. While the specter of plant invasion in conservation linkages has been raised many times in academic and practitioner literature, little has been done to directly address the potential problem. The few existing rigorous studies on the topic show conflicting results.
In this paper, Wilkerson outlines eight potential ways in which linkages might interact with invasive plants: neutral model, barrier, partial habitat, complete habitat, drift-fence conduit, classical corridor conduit, source of invasion into the matrix, or source of invasion into the connected habitat patches. All of these interaction types can be assessed via some type of observation, but in order to understand the processes behind the patterns, certain key characteristics should be studied. Each interaction type involves three main components: matrix, linkage, and focal species. Wilkerson makes recommendations about which characteristics of those three components should be targeted first:
1. Matrix characteristics: Focus on variation in matrix identity and appropriate spatiotemporal scales.
2. Linkage characteristics: Focus on nature of edge effects and the possibility of interacting edges.
3. Species ecological characteristics: Focus on dispersal syndromes and dispersal distance of targeted species as well as invasion stage and life history.
This paper is meant to provoke thought, provide concrete research and management suggestions, and fit another piece into the puzzle of conservation corridors. The overarching goal is to improve our planning, design, and management of corridors to better achieve the conservation goals we have set forth.