The National Park Service is planning to start the restoration of the Elwha River ecosystem in Olympic National Park by removing two high head dams beginning in 2011. The potential for dispersal of exotic plants into dewatered reservoirs following dam removal, which would inhibit restoration of native vegetation, is of great concern. We focused on predicting long-distance dispersal of invasive exotic plants rather than diffusive spread because local sources of invasive species have been surveyed. We included the long-distance dispersal vectors: wind, water, birds, beavers, ungulates, and users of roads and trails. Using information about the current distribution of invasive species from two surveys, various geographic information system techniques and models, and statistical methods, we identified high-priority areas for Park staff to treat prior to dam removal, and areas of the dewatered reservoirs at risk after dam removal.
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Predicting spread of invasive exotic plants into de-watered reservoirs following dam removal on the Elwha River, Olympic National Park, Washington