When battling invasive weeds, it’s easy to conclude that treating the largest masses first is the best strategy. But scientists writing in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management say that isn’t always best.

Pilot and applicator ready for take-off in a Hughes 500D helicopter to conduct HBT search and destroy on satellite miconia (Miconia calvescens DC) occupying remote locations of the watershed. Photo Credit: Bryan Berkowitz.

After analyzing more than a quarter of a century of data, they concluded that land managers battling invasive miconia in Hawaii’s East Maui Watershed should focus first on small outlying patches instead of large, centralized masses.

The study showed that 99 percent of miconia progeny develop within 549 meters (about 1,800 feet) of the nearest maternal source. The remaining one percent are dispersed by as much as 1,636 meters (5,367 feet).

Concentrating on control of the 1 percent can help land managers make the most of their limited treatment resources, the researchers say. Eliminating isolated, immature plants before they produce seed can prevent further encroachment into uninvaded habitats.  The approach is also budget friendly. Every dollar invested in treating remote instances of miconia is estimated to reduce future control costs by $184.

Want to know more? You can read the full text of the article “Interpreting Life-History Traits of Miconia (Miconia calvescens) through Management over Space and Time in the East Maui Watershed, Hawaii (USA)” in Volume 11, Issue 4 of the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management.

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