Weed hygiene: What do we do with seeds we find on our clothing
Weeds are a major threat to biodiversity globally including in protected areas. Visiting natural areas is popular with approximately 1.4 million people visiting terrestrial reserves in Australia each year. These visitors may be unintentionally spreading weed seeds, but do they know what weeds are, and what do they do if they find seeds on their clothing? When we surveyed 114 visitors to D'Aguilar National Park in south-east Queensland, we found that visitors could define a weed, with 75% identifying weeds as 'Plants that grow where they are not wanted'. We also found that they may be unintentionally transporting seeds, with 63% having found seeds attached to their clothing. When asked what they do with these seeds, the most common responses included: removing and leaving the seeds when they first noticed them; placing seeds in bins; brushing them off at the car park; dumping them in the backyard garden; or washing them together with the clothing. Therefore, although visitors know about weeds, they can transport, and in some cases deposit seeds from clothing in parks. Since propagule pressure is an important predictor of plant invasion, we discuss how different hygiene practices could help reduce the risk of park visitors spreading weed seeds.
Proceedings of the Nineteenth Australasian Weeds Conference, Hobart 1-4 September 2014
Natural Resource Management