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An Update on the Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth Project

Madsen, J. D., & Ervin, G. N. (2010). An Update on the Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth Project. Invasive Species Working Group Teleconference. National Biological Information Infrastructure: Invasive Species Information Node.


Invasive weedy plants are a widespread problem throughout the United States. Their growth is often widely dispersed, with little scientific ability to predict why they occur in a given location. In addition, historical human activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and forestry have a marked effect on the distribution and spread of invasives. This project will quantify relationships of weed distribution and spread with land use, then use that information directly in educating agriculture stakeholders, natural resources managers, and other interested parties on potential human-induced opportunities for invasive species spread. The Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South (IPAMS) is an integrated research and extension project to develop an invasive plant program for the Mid-South states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Research activities include conducting systematic regional vegetation surveys to assess the distribution of key invasive plants, developing models for predicting the occurrence of target species based on land use and cover, and evaluating the relative effectiveness of professional versus volunteer surveys. For the research component of this project, we have surveyed over 470 points throughout the state of Mississippi, providing data on more than 800 plant species, including more than 70 not native to the region. Initial analyses of these data have demonstrated a strong correlation of land use/cover with the presence of exotic plant species, especially key invaders such as the grass Imperata cylindrica (cogongrass). Outreach and extension activities include developing training programs for volunteers to identify and report invasive species using IPAMS, developing an efficient Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) system for invasive plants, developing best management information, and developing an online mapping system. To date, we have trained numerous individuals in identification of our target forty species. We have developed management information for 27 of the 40 training species, and will complete the remaining 13 species this spring. Two training workshops were held in 2009, and ten more are planned for 2010. Our webpage ( is operational, with over 8700 records of 134 species from 29 states, entered and many more observations completed but not entered into the database.

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