Climate Change in the Pacific Region
Pacific Region

Invasive Species in Pacific Northwest Forested Systems

Forests are vulnerable to invasive species (especially plants) after a disturbance; along road and other pathways; and when adjacent to non-forested habitats or areas. For example annual grasses can quickly invade a forest habitat after a high severity burn (Vose et al., 2012). 

The increase of invasive species risks due to climate change includes a variety of factors.  Invasive species have a broader climate tolerance and larger geographic ranges, and characteristics that favor rapid range shifts that would be hastened by changing climatic conditions.  Also climate change may alter transport and introduction mechanisms, establish new invasive species, alter the impact of existing invasive species, and other risk factors. (Hellman et al., 2008, Rahel and Olden 2008 and Willis et al. 2010) 

Diez et al (2012) emphasize that an increase in extreme climatic events and disturbance facilitates biological invasions. The authors find that that these events often influence invasions through increased movements of non-native species and decreased biotic resistance of native communities to invader establishment, but specific outcomes depend on the ecosystem and type of event


Learn more and read about the research that provided the information above by checking out the links below:

Diez, J, D’Antonio, C.M., Dukes, J.S., Grosholz, E.D., Olden, J.D., Sorte, C. JB., Blumenthal, D.M., Bradley, B.A., Early, R., Ibáñez, I., Jones, S.J.,  Lawler, J.J., and L. P. Miller.  2012.  Will Extreme Climatic Events Facilitate Biological Invasions? Front Ecol Environ 2012; 10(5): 249–257, doi:10.1890/110137

Hellman, J.J., Prior, K.M., Pelini, S.L.  2012.  The influence of species interactions on geographic range change under climate change . Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Issue: The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology ISSN 0077-8923 

Rahel, F.J., and Olden, J.D. , 2008, Assessing the effects of climate change on aquatic invasive species. Conserv. Biol. 22(3): 521–533. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00950.x. PMID:18577081.
Vose, James M.; Peterson, David L.; Patel-Weynand, Toral, eds. 2012. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-870. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 265 p.

Willis CG, Ruhfel BR, Primack RB, Miller-Rushing AJ, Losos JB, et al., 2010, Favorable Climate Change Response Explains Non-Native Species’ Success in Thoreau’s Woods. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8878. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008878



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Last updated: September 12, 2013

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