We quantified broad-scale patterns of species richness and species density (mean # species/km2) for native and non-indigenous plants, birds, and fishes in the continental USA and Hawaii. We hypothesized that the species density of native and non-indigenous taxa would generally decrease in northern latitudes and higher elevations following declines in potential evapotranspiration, mean temperature, and precipitation. County data on plants (n = 3004 counties) and birds (n=3074 counties), and drainage (6 HUC) data on fishes (n = 328 drainages) showed that the densities of native and non-indigenous species were strongly positively correlated for plant species (r = 0.86, P < 0.0001), bird species (r = 0.93, P<0.0001), and fish species (r = 0.41, P<0.0001). Multiple regression models showed that the densities of native plant and bird species could be strongly predicted (adj. R2 = 0.66 in both models) at county levels, but fish species densities were less predictable at drainage levels (adj. R2 = 0.31, P<0.0001). Similarly, non-indigenous plant and bird species densities were strongly predictable (adj. R2 = 0.84 and 0.91 respectively), but non-indigenous fish species density was less predictable (adj. R2 = 0.38). County level hotspots of native and non-indigenous plants, birds, and fishes were located in low elevation areas close to the coast with high precipitation and productivity (vegetation carbon). We show that (1) native species richness can be moderately well predicted with abiotic factors; (2) human populations have tended to settle in areas rich in native species; and (3) the richness and density of non-indigenous plant, bird, and fish species can be accurately predicted from biotic and abiotic factors largely because they are positively correlated to native species densities. We conclude that while humans facilitate the initial establishment, invasions of non-indigenous species, the spread and subsequent distributions of non-indigenous species may be controlled largely by environmental factors.
Additional publication details
Species richness and patterns of invasion in plants, birds, and fishes in the United States