Which invaders should be top priority?
Which invasive plants, pests and pathogens pose the biggest danger to Minnesota’s prairies, forests, wetlands and farmlands?
Researchers at the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) have compiled an extensive white paper that ranks the top 124 invaders, and now they’re looking for input from the public. The paper, "Minnesota's Top 124 Terrestrial Invasive Plants and Pests: Priorities for Research" is a result of a 14-scientist panel’s work to identify significant invasive plants, pathogens or insects in the state. The paper ranks the invaders and the potential threats they pose by category, using 17 different criteria such as current location, potential damage to ecosystems and whether the invader can survive in Minnesota’s climate.
Input from citizens is needed to finalize the rankings, and the results will be used to set funding priorities for MITPPC projects. Funding needs for research on terrestrial invasive species far exceed the resources that are currently available, said Rob Venette, director of the center, so the rankings are intended to ensure a fair, consistent, and transparent process to determine priorities for future research.
Comments will be accepted via the website through July 29. The researchers would like responses to three questions:
1. Do you have any additional information or experience that might affect the ratings that were assigned to each species?
2. Of the 124 taxa listed, which five do you think pose the greatest threat to Minnesota?
3. Would you recommend any additional terrestrial invasive species that are not on the list to be added next year as we update the list?
MITPPC, based at the U’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2014. The legislatively mandated purpose of the MITPPC is "to prevent and minimize the threats posed by terrestrial invasive plants, other weeds, pathogens, and pests in order to protect the state's prairies, forests, wetlands, and agricultural resources." It’s funded through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.