COS 113-7 - Synthesizing the effects of plant invasions on diversity at different spatial scales

Thursday, August 11, 2011: 3:40 PM
10A, Austin Convention Center
Kristin I. Powell, The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, Annapolis, MD, Jonathan M. Chase, Biodiversity Synthesis Laboratory, St Louis, MO and Tiffany M. Knight, Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO

While local-scale studies confirm the wide-spread view that invasive plants pose a large threat to diversity, broad-scale studies show that extinctions from invasive plants are rare. We synthesize this seemingly conflicting literature by conducting a meta-analysis and review on the effects of invasive plants on species richness across an extensive range of spatial scales. We create expectations for the influence of invasive plants on diversity by simulating how invasive species alter species’ occupancy, abundance, and extinction patterns.


Our meta-analysis revealed a negative relationship between the effect size of invasive plants on species richness and spatial scale. This is in agreement with regional-scale studies that find that the presence of naturalized invaders has not resulted in the extinction of native species. Our simulation models suggest that this result can occur depending on the pre-invasion occupancy-abundance distributions and how invasive plants reduce the occupancy of common species relative to rare species. Our conceptual framework shows the current and future consequences of the effects of invasive plants on biodiversity.

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