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Invasive plants of southeastern US forests

Key Personnel
   Gary Ervin, lead PI
   Adrian Lazaro-Lobo (former doctoral student)
   David Mason (former Master's student)
   Rima Lucardi, Ph.D., former doctoral student, current collaborator with the US Forest Service
   Anna Greis, current collaborator with the US Forest Service

We have been involved in several projects investigating invasive plants of southeastern US forests.  As you'll notice below, most of what we've published in this area has dealt with cogongrass, (Imperata cylindrica).  Currently, both David Mason and Adrian Lazaro Lobo are working in this general area, with work by each student just getting underway, as of summer 2017.

In early 2020, we were asked to collaborate with the Strategic Conservation Assessment (SCA) of Gulf Coast Landscapes project, to use some of our invasive plant modeling outputs to develop indices of invasion susceptibility across the Gulf Coast region. We are collaborating with Dr. Kristine Evans, of the MSU Wildlife, Fisheries, & Aquaculture Department on that work.

We also were heavily involved with an online outreach project, the Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South, that mapped distributions of many invasive plants of the region, as well as fact sheets on some of the more problematic species.  Most of the distribution data from this project now are available via EDDMapS (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System).

Although the Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South project ended a number of years ago, invasive species fact sheets from that project can be found here.

Related publications

Keybondori, S., A. Deljouei, A. Lázaro-Lobo; G. N. Ervin, Z. Shakeri, V. Etemad, S. A. Borz, E. Abdi. 2023. Effect of forest roadside on vegetation characteristics in the Hyrcanian temperate forest. Transportation Research Part D 142: 455-473.

Lázaro-Lobo, A., A. Paulson, M. A. Lashley, and G. N. Ervin. 2023. Life History Traits of Exotic and Native Species Determine Grassland Management Outcomes Following Prescribed Fire. Ecological Restoration 41: 34-43.

Zhang, B., L. Zhai, G. N. Ervin, and D. R. Coyle. 2023. Effective and timely use of models to inform on-the-ground management of invasive plants. Biological Invasions 25: 2089-2102.

Lázaro-Lobo, A., ~20 collaborators, and G. N. Ervin. 2021. Phenotypic differentiation among native, expansive, and introduced populations influences invasion success. Journal of Biogeography DOI: 10.1111/jbi.14252

Lázaro-Lobo, A., C. Ramirez-Reyes, R. D. Lucardi, and G. N. Ervin. 2021. Multivariate analysis of invasive plant species distributions in southern US forests. Landscape Ecology DOI: 10.1007/s10980-021-01326-3

Lázaro-Lobo, A., R. Lucardi, C. Ramirez-Reyes, and G. N. Ervin. 2021. Region-wide assessment of fine-scale associations between invasive plants and forest regeneration. Forest Ecology and Management 483: 118930.

Lázaro-Lobo, A. and G. N. Ervin. 2021. Native and exotic plant species respond differently to ecosystem characteristics at landscape vs local scales. Biological Invasions  DOI: 10.1007/s10530-020-02361-y

Lázaro-Lobo, A., K. O. Evans, and G. N. Ervin. 2020. Evaluating landscape characteristics of predicted hotspots for plant invasions. Invasive Plant Science and Management  DOI: 10.1017/inp.2020.21

Lázaro-Lobo, A., M. Herrera, J. A. Campos, L. Caño, E. Goñi, and G. N. Ervin. 2020. Influence of local adaptations, transgenerational effects and changes in offspring's saline environment on Baccharis halimifolia L. under different salinity and light levels. Environmental and Experimental Botany  DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2020.104134 

Lucardi, R. D., L. E. Wallace, and G. N. Ervin. 2020. Patterns of genetic diversity in highly invasive species: Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) expansion in the invaded range of the southern United States (US). Plants 9: 423;

Lázaro-Lobo, A. and G. N. Ervin. 2019. A global examination on the differential impacts of roadsides on native vs. exotic and weedy plant species. Global Ecology & Conservation, e00555.

Yates, K. L., P. J. Bouchet, …G. N. Ervin…et al. 2018. Outstanding challenges in the transferability of ecological models. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33: 790-802. (Ervin was an invited co-author on this project.)

Lucardi, R. D., L. E. Wallace, and G. N. Ervin. 2014. Evaluating hybridization as a potential facilitator of successful Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) invasion in Florida, USA. Biological Invasions 16: 2147-2161.


Lucardi, R. D. , L. E. Wallace, and G. N. Ervin. 2014. Invasion success in cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica): a population genetic approach exploring genetic diversity and historical introductions. Invasive Plant Science and Management 7: 59-75.


​Ervin, G. N. and D. C. Holly. 2011. Examining local transferability of predictive species distribution models for invasive plants: An example with cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica). Invasive Plant Science and Management 4: 390-401.

Bryson, C. T., L. J. Krutz, G. N. Ervin, K. N. Reddy, and J. D. Byrd, Jr. 2010. Ecotype variability and edaphic characteristics for cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) populations in Mississippi. Invasive Plant Science and Management 3: 199-207.

Ervin, G. N. 2009. Using GAP data in invasive plant ecology and management. US Geological Survey Gap Analysis Bulletin 16: 34-41.  

Ervin, G. N.  2009.  Distribution, habitat characteristics, and new county-level records of Baccharis halimifolia L. on a portion of its present US range boundary.  Southeastern Naturalist 8: 293–304.  

Holly, D. C., G. N. Ervin, C. R. Jackson, S. V. Diehl, G. T. Kirker. 2009. Effect of an invasive grass on ambient rates of decomposition and microbial community structure: A search for causality. Biological Invasions 11: 1855-1868. 

Holly, D. C. and G. N. Ervin.  2007.  Effects of intraspecific seedling density, soil type, and light availability upon growth and biomass allocation in cogongrass, Imperata cylindrica.  Weed Technology 21: 812-819. 


​Holly, D. C. and G. N. Ervin.  2006.  Characterization and quantitative assessment of rhizome penetration by cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauv.). Weed Biology and Management 6: 120-123.  


A first look into the US Forest Service's FIA database (O.o)

We took a look at the relationships between some noteworthy southeastern invasive plants and some important southeastern tree species. The charts here indicate the number of invasive plants that are either negatively associated with (on the left side of each chart) or positively associated with (right side) various groups of southeastern trees.

This poster was presented at a Forest Health Monitoring workshop in Raleigh, NC in February 2020.

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