Predicted versus actual invasiveness of vines in Florida’s natural areas
The pattern that vines have a particularly high probability of invasion in new habitats relative to other plant growth forms is of concern in Florida, where at least 89 vine species have been introduced. We evaluated whether predicted invasion risk matches actual invasion status in Florida’s natural areas for these vine species. The predictive weed risk assessment (WRA) tool used was the Australian WRA modified for Florida, which has been demonstrated to have over 90% accuracy in predicting Florida’s terrestrial plant invaders. The actual invasion status was assessed using the University of Florida’s assessment of non-native species in Florida’s natural areas.
The WRA predicted that over 70% of the species have a high probability of invasion. The longevity of species presence in the flora significantly influenced the accuracy of this prediction: over 50% of those species documented in Florida for longer than 50 years are currently invasive in Florida’s natural areas, while 35% of those introduced more recently are invasive. Fewer than 5% of species that are invasive were incorrectly predicted to be of low risk for invasion. The documented accuracy of the WRA tool suggests that the number of invasive vine species in Florida is likely to increase. Early control and prevention efforts for high invasion risk species may be warranted to avoid ecological impacts to Florida’s natural areas.