, Volume 17, Issue 13, pp 3181-3194
Date: 16 Jul 2008

Operational characterization of alien invasive flora and its management implications

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Abstract

A continuing lack of consensus on the operational characterisation of alien invasive species (AIS) in invasion biology has hampered the integration of research results generated worldwide. This impedes our progress in devising sound management strategies to stem the tide of biological invasions. In this regard, we here use the neutral terminology model of Colautti and MacIsaac (Divers Distrib 10:135–141, 2004) (CM model) for the characterization of alien invasive flora of the Kashmir Himalaya, India; and more emphatically, expound the utility of such a stage-based operational framework in the management of plant invasions. Out of the total of 436 alien invasive plant species recorded in the region, the number of species belonging to invasion stages II, III, IVa, IVb and V was 119, 107, 56, 77 and 77 species, respectively. In terms of relative proportion of species belonging to the different invasion stages, trees dominated the Stage-V (31.25%), followed by aquatics, subshrubs, biennial herbs, perennial herbs, annual herbs and shrubs, in descending order. Based on the results obtained in the present investigation, and in an attempt to link the characterisation of AIS with the management of plant invasions, we here propose a hierarchical management framework based on prediction, prevention, prescription, and public awareness. While the present study focuses on plants only, the proposed management framework can be operationally used across different taxonomic groups, and within varied ecosystems, with potentially immense management implications.