Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 11, pp 2789–2807 | Cite as

Combining asset- and species-led alien plant management priorities in the world’s most intact Mediterranean-climate landscape

  • Carl R. Gosper
  • Suzanne M. Prober
  • Colin J. Yates
  • John K. Scott
Original Paper


Minimising the spread and impact of alien plants is a crucial component of land management for biodiversity conservation. Alien plant management typically focuses on either controlling selected alien species (‘species-led’), or on minimizing invasions within selected biodiversity or cultural assets (‘asset-led’). Here, we compare and combine species- and asset-led approaches to prioritise alien plant management activities in the world’s largest Mediterranean-climate woodland, located in south-western Australia. Our species-led approach focused on identifying aliens likely to be increasingly problematic in future with a changing climate. Our asset-led approach used comprehensive flora survey data to identify key predictors of contemporary alien presence, with the purpose of minimising alien occurrence across the asset of a relatively little-disturbed landscape. Most aliens were associated with climates more mesic than are predicted to occur in the region in future. A limited range of alien taxa (12 %) are predicted to be both highly invasive in the future and feasibly eradicated or contained, and it is these that should be subject to species-led management. A consistent set of management-related predictors of contemporary alien presence were identified, including closer proximity to towns, buildings and water points, and occurrence on a geology and soil type associated with prospective mineral deposits. Addressing the highest management priorities of each approach would appear to be a complementary and parsimonious way forward for regional-scale alien management for biodiversity conservation, as this tackles the processes associated with contemporary alien spread (asset-led approach) while taking a precautionary approach to pre-empt future problematic invasions (species-led approach).


Asset-protection Climate change Great Western Woodlands Invasive species Weed invasion Weed risk assessment 



Alien plant records or flora survey site data were kindly provided by Louise Briggs, Neil Gibson, Megan Muir and Judith Harvey (all Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW)). Spatial layers, spatial and statistical analysis advice and/or R scripts were kindly provided by Nat Raisbeck-Brown (CSIRO), Judith Harvey, Tanya Llorens, Lesley Gibson, Neil Gibson, Matthew Williams and Ian Steward (all DPaW). The comments of two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript.


This study was funded by the Western Australian State Government under A Biodiversity and Cultural Conservation Strategy for the Great Western Woodlands, and supported by the Great Western Woodlands Supersite of the Australian Government’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10531_2015_973_MOESM1_ESM.docx (728 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 727 kb)


  1. Beard JS (1990) Plant life of Western Australia. Kangaroo Press, KenthurstGoogle Scholar
  2. Bureau of Meteorology (2014) Climate data online. Accessed 6 Feb 2014
  3. Catford JA, Jansson R, Nilsson C (2009) Reducing redundancy in invasion ecology by integrating hypotheses into a single theoretical framework. Divers Distrib 15:22–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chevan A, Sutherland M (1991) Hierarchical partitioning. Am Stat 45:90–96Google Scholar
  5. Chong GW, Otsuki Y, Stohlgren TJ, Guenther D, Evangelista P, Villa C, Waters A (2006) Evaluating plant invasions from both habitat and species perspectives. West North Am Nat 66:92–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cox RL, Underwood EC (2011) The importance of conserving biodiversity outside of protected areas in Mediterranean ecosystems. PLoS One 6(1):e14508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014508 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (2010) A biodiversity and cultural conservation strategy for the Great Western Woodlands. DEC, PerthGoogle Scholar
  8. Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (2013) Great Western Woodlands Draft strategic weed and Feral animal management plan. DEC, PerthGoogle Scholar
  9. Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) (2013) Weed prioritisation process for DPaW. Accessed 10 Feb 2014
  10. Duursma DE, Gallagher RV, Roger E, Hughes L, Downey PO, Leishman MR (2013) Weed futures: determining current and future weed threats in Australia. Accessed 22 Apr 2015
  11. Elton CS (1958) The ecology of invasions by animals and plants. Methuen, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fensham RJ, Fairfax RJ (2008) Water-remoteness for grazing relief in Australian arid-lands. Biol Conserv 141:1447–1460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fletcher CS, Westcott DA (2013) Dispersal and the design of effective management strategies for plant invasions: matching scales for success. Ecol Appl 23:1881–1892CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. García RA, Pauchard A, Escudero A (2014) French broom (Teline monspessulana) invasion in south-central Chile depends on factors operating at different spatial scales. Biol Invasions 16:113–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gassó N, Sol D, Pino J, Dana ED, Lloret F, Sanz-Elorza M, Sobrino E, Vilà M (2009) Exploring species attributes and site characteristics to assess plant invasions in Spain. Divers Distrib 15:50–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gavier-Pizarro GI, Radeloff VC, Stewart SI, Huebner CD, Keuler NS (2010) Rural housing is related to plant invasions in forests of southern Wisconsin, USA. Landsc Ecol 25:1505–1518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gaynor A (2005) ‘Like a good deed in a naughty world’: gardens on the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Aust Humanit Rev 36. Accessed 8 May 2014
  18. Gibson N, Yates CJ, Dillon R (2010) Plant communities of the ironstone ranges of south Western Australia: hotspots for plant diversity and mineral deposits. Biodivers Conserv 19:3951–3962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gosper CR, Yates CJ, Prober SM, Williams MR (2011) Fire does not facilitate invasion by alien annual grasses in an infertile Australian agricultural landscape. Biol Invasions 13:533–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grice AC, Ainsworth N (2003) Sleeper weeds—a useful concept? Plant Prot Q 18:35–39Google Scholar
  21. Hobbs RJ, Huenneke LF (1992) Disturbance, diversity, and invasion: implications for conservation. Conserv Biol 6:324–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hopper SD, Gioia P (2004) The southwest Australian floristic region: evolution and conservation of a global hot spot of biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 35:623–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Landsberg J, James CD, Morton SR, Müller WJ, Stol J (2003) Abundance and composition of plant species along grazing gradients in Australian rangelands. J Appl Ecol 40:1008–1024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mac Nally R (1996) Hierarchical partitioning as an interpretative tool in multivariate inference. Aust J Ecol 21:224–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mac Nally R (2002) Multiple regression and inference in ecology and conservation biology: further comments on identifying important predictor variables. Biodivers Conserv 11:1397–1401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martin T, Murphy H, Liedloff A (2010) Invasive species and climate change: a framework for predicting species distribution when data are scarce. CSIRO Climate Adaption Flagship Working Paper Number 13G. Accessed 10 Feb 2015
  27. McDonald CJ, McPherson GR (2011) Fire behavior characteristics of buffelgrass-fueled fires and native plant community composition in invaded patches. J Arid Environ 75:1147–1154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McLeod AI, Xu C (2011) bestglm: best subset GLM. Accessed 6 May 2014
  29. New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI) (2008) New South Wales invasive species plan 2008–2015. NSW DPI, OrangeGoogle Scholar
  30. Nistelberger H, Byrne M, Coates D, Roberts JD (2014) Strong phylogeographic structure in a millipede indicates Pleistocene vicariance between populations on banded iron formations in semi-arid Australia. PLoS One 9(3):e93038. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093038 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Panetta FD, Cacho OJ (2012) Beyond fecundity control: which weeds are most containable? J Appl Ecol 49:311–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Panetta FD, Lawes RM (2005) Evaluation of the performance of weed eradication programs: the delimitation of extent. Divers Distrib 11:435–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Prober SM, Thiele KR, Rundel PW, Yates CJ, Berry SL, Byrne M, Christidis L, Gosper CR, Grierson PF, Lemson K, Lyons T, Macfarlane C, O’Connor MH, Scott JK, Standish RJ, Stock WD, van Etten EJB, Wardell-Johnson GW, Watson A (2012) Facilitating adaptation of biodiversity to climate change: a conceptual framework applied to the world’s largest Mediterranean-climate woodland. Clim Change 110:227–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Hulme PE, Pergl J, Hejda M, Schaffner U, Vilà M (2012) A global assessment of alien invasive plant impacts on resident species, communities and ecosystems: the interaction of impact measures, invading species’ traits and environment. Glob Change Biol 18:1725–1737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Randall RP (2012) A global compendium of weeds, 2nd edn. Department of Agriculture and Food, PerthGoogle Scholar
  36. Richardson DM, Pyšek P (2008) Fifty years of invasion ecology—the legacy of Charles Elton. Divers Distrib 14:161–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richardson DM, Allsopp N, D’Antonio CM, Milton SJ, Rejmánek M (2000a) Plant invasions—the role of mutualisms. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 75:65–93CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Richardson DM, Pyšek P, Rejmánek M, Barbour MG, Panetta DF, West CJ (2000b) Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Divers Distrib 6:93–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schut AGT, Wardell-Johnson GW, Yates CJ, Keppel G, Baran I, Franklin SE, Hopper SD, Van Niel KP, Mucina L, Byrne M (2014) Rapid characterisation of vegetation structure to predict refugia and climate change impacts across a global biodiversity hotspot. PLoS One 9(1):e82778. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082778 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Scott JK, Webber BL, Murphy H, Ota N, Kriticos DJ, Loechel B (2014) AdaptNRM weeds and climate change: supporting weed management adaptation. Accessed 10 Feb 2015
  41. Simberloff D, von Holle B (1999) Positive interactions of nonindigenous species: invasional meltdown? Biol Invasions 1:21–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. R Core Team (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Accessed 6 May 2014
  43. Thompson WA, Allen J (2013) Flora and vegetation of greenstone formations of the Yilgarn Craton: southern Bullfinch Greenstone Belt. Conserv Sci West Aust 8:295–312Google Scholar
  44. Todd SW (2006) Gradients in vegetation cover, structure and species richness of Nama-Karoo shrublands in relation to distance from livestock watering points. J Appl Ecol 43:293–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Walsh C, Mac Nally R (2013) Package hier. part: hierarchical partitioning, version 1.0-4. Accessed 6 May 2014
  46. Watson A, Judd S, Watson J, Lam A, Mackenzie D (2008) The extraordinary nature of the Great WesternWoodlands. The Wilderness Society, PerthGoogle Scholar
  47. Webber BL, Yates CJ, Le Maitre DC, Scott JK, Kriticos DJ, Ota N, McNeill A, Le Roux JJ, Midgley GF (2011) Modelling horses for novel climate courses: insights from projecting potential distributions of native and alien Australian acacias with correlative and mechanistic models. Divers Distrib 17:978–1000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Western Australian Herbarium (WAH) (1998–2013) FloraBase—the Western Australian Flora. Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth, WA. Accessed 20 Aug 2013

Copyright information

© © Crown Copyright 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl R. Gosper
    • 1
    • 2
  • Suzanne M. Prober
    • 2
  • Colin J. Yates
    • 1
  • John K. Scott
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Science and Conservation DivisionDepartment of Parks and WildlifeBentleyAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Land and Water FlagshipWembleyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Animal BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations