The Michigan Plant Invasiveness Assessment System

Invasive plants threaten all of Michigan’s ecosystems from natural areas, managed forests, and agricultural production fields to the built landscape. Members of the Michigan Invasive Plant Council share a concern about the effects of invasive plants in our state and as a result initiated work on an assessment system tailored to Michigan’s environmental conditions and the diversity of its natural, managed, and built landscapes. 

The objective of this assessment is to identify relevant biological, ecological, management, and economic information that will aid in the evaluation of the impact any given plant may have on Michigan ecosystems and become the foundation of an accompanying Michigan Invasive Plant Council (MIPC) recommended plan of action. 

The Michigan Plant Invasiveness Assessment System is adapted from several assessment tools currently being used and/or developed for the evaluation of invasive potential and the categorization of invasive plants around the country.   The end result identifies criteria that are appropriate for Michigan and was based on a collaborative effort and the consensus of the members on MIPC’s Invasive Plant Task Force.  Each brought their disciplinary expertise to the table in the development of this document. 

The members of the team that contributed to and approved the MPIAS are:

Alix Cleveland, Plant Ecologist, Huron-Manistee National Forests
Kim D. Herman, Wildlife Ecologist, Western Upper Peninsula Management Unit, Michigan DNR,
Stephen MacDonald, Twixwood Nursery
David MacKenzie, Hortech Nursery
Ted Myers, The Cottage Gardens
Douglas R. Pearsall, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Chapter
Jan Schultz, Forest Plant Ecologist, Hiawatha National Forest
Robert E. Schutzki, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University
Timothy Wood, Spring Meadow Nursery

The Assessment has seven sections; the first six provide information that leads to the Michigan Invasive Plant Council Plan of Action.  The sections were developed to identify plant behavioral characteristics, evaluate biological and economic impacts (both positive and negative), and assemble the necessary information to make an informed decision.  The sections are:

Section I – Biological Character. Reproductive Ability and Dispersal
Reproductive ability identifies a plant’s invasive tendency in Michigan.  Dispersal identifies the vectors or agents of dispersal and the likelihood of long distance dispersal.  Dispersal agents are Environmental Influences such as: wind and water; Wildlife, both mammals and birds; Domestic Animals, both mammals and birds; and Human activity. 

Section II – Impact. 
Impact identifies the plant’s ecological, aesthetic, economic influence on natural areas, constructed habitats, managed landscapes, and production systems.

Section III – Distribution. 
Distribution identifies known occurrences of this plant.  It indicates the area of origin for the plant and the earliest documented occurrence in North America.  Then, for Michigan, identifies the extent to which the plant is reported to be a problem in each of four ecological regions.   

Section IV – Control Methods. 
Control Methods document the availability of mechanical, chemical, biological, and fire as a resource in managing or eradicating the plant in question. 

Section V – Control Effort.  
Control Effort identifies control potential (investment in human and financial resources) and management activity (programs being presently conducted).  Control potential considers feasibility, costs, and unavoidable non-target damage. Management activity identifies current programs being employed to eradicate or suppress this plant in the public and private arenas.
Section VI – Value within the State of Michigan. 
Value within Michigan indicates value associated with agriculture, horticulture, turf, forestry, landscape development, soil and water conservation and wildlife habitat. 

Section VII –Summary Table, Invasiveness Rank and Plant Summary Report.
Section VII is for use by MIPC in the formulation of the MIPC plan of action.  It should be noted that information originating outside of our region is also collected and considered in the assessment.  Its appropriateness in terms of plant biological and behavioral characteristics and climatic/soil conditions is evaluated with respect to Michigan. 

MIPC Plan of Action:
MIPC Plan of Action is based on a review of the information obtained through the assessment and an analysis of its appropriateness and application to Michigan environmental conditions.  The Plan of Action outlines specific recommendations that may include one or all of the following: Education; Suppression; Restoration; and Elimination.  This information will aid in determining whether the plant is a serious threat, can be used responsibly under specific guidelines, to be watched, or simply not problematic in Michigan.

Procedures for Plant Assessment through MPIAS
Information on the plants is obtained from: peer reviewed scientific journals; agencies publications, reports and other publications; fact sheets; observations from qualified biologists; unconfirmed anecdotal information; and personal communications.  The searches and assemblage of information into MPIAS is a concerted effort by trained professionals in resource management, ecology, horticulture, forestry and other allied plant related disciplines.  The information is reviewed for accuracy, relevance and appropriateness for Michigan’s environmental and climatic conditions by the MPIAS reviewers.  The information is then used to develop the MIPC Plan of Action through consensus of the task force reviewers.

Michigan Plant Invasiveness Assessment System Reviewers are:

Phyllis Higman, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Chris Howe, Hortech, Inc
Dave MacKenzie, Hortech, Inc.
Brian Majka, JFNEW Ecological Consultants and Restoration Services
Doug Pearsall, The Nature Conservancy
Robert Schutzki, Michigan State University.

If you would like to review the full assessment tool (pdf file) click here.

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