Date of this Version
The negative effect of invasive species on native species, communities, and ecosystems is widely recognized, and the economic effects in the United States are estimated to be billions of dollars annually. Studies often examine traits of nonnative species or examine what makes a particular habitat invasible. To better understand the factors governing invasions, we used the flora of Nebraska to characterize and compare native and nonnative plant occurrences throughout the state. In addition, we assessed four critical landscape predictors of nonnative plant richness: human population size and three land cover attributes that included percentage of grassland, percentage of agriculture, and percentage of public lands. Results indicated that individual plant species richness has increased by about 35% through invasions (primarily of annuals from the family Poaceae). In addition, human population density, percentage of agriculture, and percentage of public lands all show a positive association with nonnative plant richness. Successful plant invasions may change the composition of species communities, basic ecological functions, and the delivery of ecosystem services. Thus, identifying the factors that influence such variation in distribution patterns can be fundamental to recognizing the present and potential future extent of nonnative plant infestations and, in turn, developing appropriate management programs.