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North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Agronomy, Horticulture

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Published Version

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Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science





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Americans cultivate a large and diverse range of introduced woody plants as important sources of food and forest products, as well as for urban horticulture, amenity and wildlife plantings, and windbreaks. A small number of these species have become serious pests, disrupting well-established native plant communities or functioning as range and agricultural weeds. More of these species are not serious pests today, but have escaped cultivation and serve as potential sources of future outbreaks. Two other sources of potentially invasive woody plants are found among species that are not or are only rarely cultivated, about which we often know little regarding their adaptation and reproductive biology, and among new populations of well-known taxa, superior in invasive ability to populations already extant. Methods have been developed to evaluate the invasive potential of woody plants in North America, resulting from detailed analyses of life history, biosystematics, phytogeography, and known records of invasions in other parts of the world. Because these methods were developed to make predictions on a continental scale, they cannot account for differences in environmental adaptations that woody plants have evolved in their natural habitats. The present study reviews the use of environmental analogs in predicting woody plant adaptation. The native ranges of 28 non-native, woody taxa known to be invasive in Iowa are then mapped and compared with the geographic occurrence of environmental analogs to Iowa growing conditions, based on January mean temperature, moisture balance, and latitude, three limiting factors influencing woody plant survival in the north central United States. Regions with the highest number of native taxa among the 28 taxa mapped are found in southeastern Europe and northeastern China. Climatic analogs to Iowa conditions are found in Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, China, North Korea, and the Russian Far East. Climatic analogs in Ukraine, Romania, and China overlap with those regions containing the highest number of invasive woody plants. These regions of overlap are also within the native ranges of nine woody taxa that are potentially invasive in Iowa. This information should be valuable for conducting a geographic risk analysis to refine existing methods for evaluating the invasive potential of non-native woody plants in Iowa and surrounding areas.


This article is from Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science 108 (2001): 158.


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