Cheatgrass, however, is likely to be affected by climate change, potentially moving northwards into parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but retreating in southern Nevada and Utah. And, according to Bradley and her co-authors, the impacts of climate change will likely shift spotted knapweed, currently distributed throughout the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau, to higher elevations, leading to both expanded risk and restoration opportunities in part of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
Leafy spurge, abundant in northern states west of the Mississippi River and some rangeland west of the Rockies, will likely retreat from some places in the face of climate change, creating restoration possibilities in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota but potentially expanding into parts of Canada not included in the researchers' study. In addition, the researchers found that leafy spurge is likely to retreat from Nebraska and parts of Oregon and Iowa, creating strong potential for restoration in these areas.
To better address the impacts of invasive species, the authors note, further modeling and experimental work is needed to determine which species will be able to occupy these sites if the invasive species are reduced or eliminated by climate change. Local native plants (the ones that were there prior to the arrival of the invasive species) may be unable to reoccupy these areas as a result of global warming. If local native plants cannot reoccupy the areas, then native plants from elsewhere in the West will need to be considered for restoration to prevent new invasive species from quickly invading these sites.
"The restoration opportunities associated with the retreat of currently intractable invasive species are vast in the western United States," the authors wrote. "The uncertainties associated wit
|Contact: Lucy Collister|