Impacts of Invasive Species on Forest and Grassland Ecosystem Processes in the United StatesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In this chapter, we describe current understanding of and identify research gaps on how invasive species directly, and indirectly, affect ecosystem processes. Specifically, we focus on how invasive species can alter the terrestrial carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles and how changes to these terrestrial cycles cascade to affect water quantity and quality. While invasive species may alter other ecosystem processes, we focus on these due to their importance to policy, to the public, and to their likely interaction with climate change effects. For example, carbon sequestration and surface water supply originating from forests and grasslands (Caldwell et al. 2014) are important policy and public concerns, and drought frequency and intensity will likely increase with climate change (Vose et al. 2016a). Our goal is to draw generalizations rather than provide details on invasive species effects on a case-by-case basis. We do, however, provide case studies for illustration and draw linkages with other chapters that provide detailed coverage to disturbance regimes (Chap. 5) and types and mechanisms of ecological impact caused by invasive insects (Chap. 2).