Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Combining local, landscape, and regional geographies to assess plant community vulnerability to invasion impact

February 19, 2023

Invasive species science has focused heavily on the invasive agent. However, management to protect native species also requires a proactive approach focused on resident communities and the features affecting their vulnerability to invasion impacts. Vulnerability is likely the result of factors acting across spatial scales, from local to regional, and it is the combined effects of these factors that will determine the magnitude of vulnerability. Here, we introduce an analytical framework that quantifies the scale-dependent impact of biological invasions on native richness from the shape of the native species–area relationship (SAR). We leveraged newly available, biogeographically extensive vegetation data from the U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network to assess plant community vulnerability to invasion impact as a function of factors acting across scales. We analyzed more than 1000 SARs widely distributed across the USA along environmental gradients and under different levels of non-native plant cover. Decreases in native richness were consistently associated with non-native species cover, but native richness was compromised only at relatively high levels of non-native cover. After accounting for variation in baseline ecosystem diversity, net primary productivity, and human modification, ecoregions that were colder and wetter were most vulnerable to losses of native plant species at the local level, while warmer and wetter areas were most susceptible at the landscape level. We also document how the combined effects of cross-scale factors result in a heterogeneous spatial pattern of vulnerability. This pattern could not be predicted by analyses at any single scale, underscoring the importance of accounting for factors acting across scales. Simultaneously assessing differences in vulnerability between distinct plant communities at local, landscape, and regional scales provided outputs that can be used to inform policy and management aimed at reducing vulnerability to the impact of plant invasions.

Publication Year 2023
Title Combining local, landscape, and regional geographies to assess plant community vulnerability to invasion impact
DOI 10.1002/eap.2821
Authors Ines Ibáñez, Lais Petri, David Barnett, Evelyn M. Beaury, Dana M. Blumenthal, Jeff Corbin, Jeffrey M. Diez, Jeffrey Dukes, Reagan Early, Ian Pearse, Cascade J. B. Sorte, Montserrat Vila, Bethany A. Bradley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70243027
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center