Remove/control non-native plants

How is the evidence assessed?

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects on mammals of removing or controlling non-native invasive plants. Both studies were in the USA.


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): A replicated study in the USA found that control of introduced saltcedar did not change small mammal species richness.


  • Abundance (1 study): A site comparison study in the USA found that partial removal of velvet mesquite did not increase abundances of six mammal species.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A site comparison study in 1976–1978 in three desert sites in Arizona, USA (Germano et al. 1983) found that partial removal of velvet mesquite Prosopis juliflora var. velutina did not increase abundances of six mammal species, and complete removal reduced the abundance of two species. The abundance of black-tailed jackrabbits Lepus californicus was higher in the undisturbed (0.37/km) and partially cleared mesquite sites (0.36/km) than in the cleared, mesquite-free, site (0.06/km). The same pattern held for antelope jackrabbit Lepus alleni (0.37 and 0.56 vs 0.09/km). However, abundances were similar in the undisturbed, partially and fully cleared sites for desert mule deer Odocoileus hemionus crooki (0.30, 0.24 and 0.16/km), javelina Dicotyles tajacu (0.24, 0.15 and 0.00/km), coyote Canis latrans (0.05, 0.06 and 0.01/km) and desert cottontail Sylvilagus audubonii (0.04, 0.02 and 0.03/km). Mesquite was cleared from one 300 ha site in 1955 using diesel oil, and partially removed from a second 300 ha site by clearing seven 2.8–30.4 ha patches by chaining in July 1976. At the third 300 ha site, mesquite was left undisturbed. Mammals were counted monthly along four 1,200-m transects between September 1976 and June 1978.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated study in 2001–2012 in three sites in Nevada, USA (Longland 2014) found that control of introduced saltcedar Tamarix ramosissima, did not change small mammal species richness. Ten years after saltcedar control commenced, small mammal species richness (3–6 species) was similar to that when control started (3–7 species). Small mammals were trapped annually in May or June for three consecutive nights between 2001 and 2011–2012 at three sites along waterways. An additional trapping period of three nights was conducted in July or August 2001–2004 at one site, and 2001–2006 at two sites. Each night at each site, 2–4 parallel rows of 25 Sherman® live traps, baited with wild birdseed mix, were set with 10 m between traps and 25–100 m between rows. Saltcedar was controlled by leaf beetles Diorhabda spp. released at the sites in 2001–2002.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation - Published 2020

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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