Introduction to Invasive Plants in Deserts
One or a few species of invasive plants can replace native plant communities across entire landscapes. Biodiversity and stability of vegetation, soils, and wildlife decline dramatically. Once the replacement is complete, it is difficult to restore the original species. In some instances, the replacement is so widespread there are not enough resources available to achieve restoration. The loss is permanent.
Invasive non-native species are a central management concern for all wild land managers because they “threaten biodiversity and other ecological functions and values” (Warner et al. 2003). This statement represents a consensus by the scientists and land managers concerned with natural ecosystems (e.g., Mau-Crimmins et al. 2005). Native vegetation is more diverse, resilient, and persistent than invasive plant vegetation; it provides food and cover for wildlife, absorbs precipitation, increases water storage, protects soil, reduces flooding and sedimentation, and helps maintain air and water quality. According to the Sonoran Institute: “Invasive species are the second most significant threat to biological diversity after direct habitat loss”.