Ecological - Second Order
Invasive, nonnative plant species have been a concern of land managers within the temperate and boreal coniferous forest eco-region for nearly a century. Fire management, timber harvest, grazing, mining, recreation, and agriculture have not only exacerbated invasive species establishment and spread, but have been impacted by such species as well. Some invasive species, such as cheatgrass, have increased fire frequency while others, such as diffuse knapweed, have the potential to decrease fire frequency. Such changes in disturbance regimes have altered land use patterns. Fire exclusion in dry forest ecosystems has led to large catastrophic wildfires, increasing the potential for invasion by nonnatives and further altering ecosystems. Clear-cut harvesting and prescribed burning of residual fuels in coastal coniferous forests promotes the establishment and spread of invasive species to the detriment of native species. Fire and land management planners should consider practices that minimize invasion of nonnatives. Similarly, managers should consider the potential benefits of prescribed fire on increased resistance of native plant communities to invasion or as a method of invasive species control. Monitoring current fire management activities and the initiation of fire effects research will be important to better address invasive species during ecosystem restoration activities within this eco-region.