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Invasive Species

Ecosystem Resilience Through Early Detection Rapid Response Weed Management at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook


Christy M. Wolf, Conservation Program Manager, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook:


Invasive species are among the most significant threats to native ecosystems and pose a biosecurity challenge for conservation management in the military. From increasing erosion and wildland fire risks to decreasing habitat quality and ecosystem services, adverse effects of an invasive species can be pervasive and difficult to address once established. While prevention of a new invasion is ideal, it is not always feasible. Once a species is introduced, the early stages of colonization represent a critical window for decision-making (e.g. no action vs control vs eradication?). Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) programs endeavor to exploit this timing “sweet spot” when eradication is presumably most feasible and cost-effective. Yet invasive species management is fraught with uncertainties, cost-benefit tradeoffs that are difficult to quantify, and real-world impediments that can make EDRR more aspirational than attainable. Land managers often do not know when a new species arrived, how invasive it is, how extensive the population may be, most effective treatment(s), if eradication is feasible, and/or if the species is worth treating at all. These questions are made more challenging within the context of climate-driven species range shifts, where the concept of native versus invasive is blurred as a native species in one area may become climate-displaced, and nonnative species may gain a greater or lesser competitive advantage. At Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook in coastal San Diego County, California, lessons learned from the successful eradication of barbed goat grass (Aegilops triuncialis) and ongoing eradication efforts of other species (e.g., bridal veil broom [Retama monosperma], stinkwort [Dittrichia graveolens], African lovegrass [Erigrotis echinochloidea]) have honed EDRR and eradication protocols. Using case studies for illustration, this presentation will cover key elements of the Detachment Fallbrook EDRR and eradication protocols, including lessons learned, leveraging subject matter expertise to inform adaptive management, resource limitations and considerations in a changing climate, and other cost/benefit tradeoffs.

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