Journal or Book Title
Spatial abundance information is a critical component of invasive plant risk assessment. While spatial occurrence data provide important information about potential establishment, abundance data are necessary to understand invasive species’ populations, which ultimately drive environmental and economic impacts. In recent years, the collective efforts of numerous management agencies and public participants have created unprecedented spatial archives of invasive plant occurrence, but consistent information about abundance remains rare. Here, we develop guidelines for the collection and reporting of abundance information that can add value to existing data collection efforts and inform spatial ecology research. In order to identify the most common methods used to report abundance, we analyzed over 1.6 million invasive plant records in the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS). Abundance data in some form are widely reported, with 58.9% of records containing qualitative or quantitative information about invasive plant cover, density, or infested area, but records vary markedly in terms of standards for reporting. Percent cover was the most commonly reported metric of abundance, typically collected in bins of trace (<1%), low (1–5%), moderate (5–25%), and high (>25%). However, percent cover data were rarely reported along with an estimate of area, which is critical for ensuring accurate interpretation of reported abundance data. Infested area is typically reported as a number with associated units of square feet or acres. Together, an estimate of both cover and infested area provides the most robust and interpretable information for spatial research and risk assessment applications. By developing consistent metrics of reporting for abundance, collectors can provide much needed information to support spatial models of invasion risk.
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Bradley, Bethany A.; Allen, Jenica M.; O'Neill, Mitchell W.; Wallace, Rebekah D.; Bargeron, Charles T.; Richburg, Julie A.; and Stinson, Kristina, "Invasive species risk assessments need more consistent spatial abundance data" (2018). Ecosphere. 403.