We present an approach to quantitatively assess nonnative plant invasions at landscape scales from both habitat and species perspectives. Our case study included 34 nonnative species found in 142 plots (0.1 ha) in 14 vegetation types within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. A plot invasion index, based on nonnative species richness and cover, showed that only 16 of 142 plots were heavily invaded. A species invasive index, based on frequency, cover, and number of vegetation types invaded, showed that only 7 of 34 plant species were highly invasive. Multiple regressions using habitat characteristics (moisture index, elevation, soil P, native species richness, maximum crust development class, bare ground, and rock) explained 60% of variation in nonnative species richness and 46% of variation in nonnative species cover. Three mesic habitats (aspen, wet meadow, and perennial riparian types) were particularly invaded (31 of 34 nonnative species studied were found in these types). Species-specific logistic regression models for the 7 most invasive species correctly predicted occurrence 89% of the time on average (from 80% for Bromus tectorum, a habitat generalist, to 93% for Tamarix spp., a habitat specialist). Even with such a modest sampling intensity (<0.1% of the landscape), this multiscale sampling scheme was effective at evaluating habitat vulnerability to invasion and the occurrence of the 7 most invasive nonnative species. This approach could be applied in other natural areas to develop strategies to document invasive species and invaded habitats.
Additional publication details
Evaluating plant invasions from both habitat and species perspectives