Did you know that invasive plant and animal species cost US taxpayers over $120 billion per year (Pimental et al. 2005)? In addition, about half of all rare and endangered species face the threat of extinction from invasive species (Stein et al 2000)! Invasive species are behind citrus greening, laurel wilt disease, Dutch elm disease, and the American chestnut blight (which, according to Griffin (2008) killed almost 3 billion trees in the early 1900's!).
The concept of Early Detection / Rapid Response is very simple - the smaller the infestation of a new invasive species, the easier and cheaper it is to eradicate. Also, the chances of a successful eradication are much higher. See the classic Invasion Curve (adapted from Chippendale 1991).
Over time, a new invasive species becomes more abundant. Unfortunately, most infestations are not discovered until the population is quite large. That is where Early Detection / Rapid Response or EDRR comes in. If an infestation of a new invasive plant or animal can be discovered early enough in the curve above, the land owner can quickly respond with the appropriate tools to eradicate it quickly!
For the 17 CISMAs of Florida (and a part of Alabama), the following definition of EDRR was adopted in 2015:
A plant that is in your CISMA boundary, but limited in range and density (i.e., likely to be eradicable within your boundaries) AND possesses a potential or probable threat to native species/communities in your CISMA
Each CISMA has a unique list of EDRR plant species. Each of these species occurs within the CISMA boundaries but are not very widespread. This provides land owners, land managers, and volunteers the opportunity to hunt down and destroy the species before it gets out of hand.
One of the greatest challenges is getting enough "boots on the ground" to go out and look for small patches of invasive plants on public conservation lands. If you would like to be a part of the solution, contact the CISMA lead in your area and find out when the next volunteer survey or work day will occur!
Want to know more? Check out EDDMapS