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Management and impact of a native invasive species: Allocasuarina huegeliana in the sandplain heath of the Western Australian Wheatbelt.
I am looking at the use of spatially explicit modeling to analyse and inform invasive species management. I am applying these techniques to two species exhibiting invasive behaviour in Southwest Australia. The first, Allocasuarina huegeliana, is a native species invading heathland systems in which it is historically absent. The species is potentially controlled by fire events, a disturbance regime that has been interrupted by human activity. The second, Ehrharta calycina, is a non-native perennial grass that is invading Banksia woodland systems. The only effective control known is herbicide. I am modeling each species and the effects of management activities to simulate the optimal strategy for control. The goal is to inform land managers of the short and long term effects of control on each population. In addition, I am looking at whether similar modeling techniques can be applied to two different situations while still maintaining model robustness and ecological meaning.
Invasion poses a world-wide threat to native systems and control of invasive species is a prominent issue in land-management decision-making. Historically, chemical and bio- control have been the most common tools for control. However, indiscriminate use of these methods has created new problems, as chemical treatments often impact more than the species of concern and counter-pests can become invasive themselves, sometimes without controlling the target species. Recent efforts have been made to refine and expand those techniques. Experimental data can be hard to collect on long-term control options, and modeling offers an informative tool for management strategy design. However, modeling is often a purely research focused activity, and there is a need to bridge research with application through focused effort on single-species behaviour and the involvement of local land managers. I am currently working with DEC and will be working with the BGPA to create informative outputs for on-the-ground application.