A null model of exotic plant diversity tested with exotic and native species–area relationships



At large spatial scales, exotic and native plant diversity exhibit a strong positive relationship. This may occur because exotic and native species respond similarly to processes that influence diversity over large geographical areas. To test this hypothesis, we compared exotic and native species–area relationships within six North American ecoregions. We predicted and found that within ecoregions the ratio of exotic to native species richness remains constant with increasing area. Furthermore, we predicted that areas with more native species than predicted by the species–area relationship would have proportionally more exotics as well. We did find that these exotic and native deviations were highly correlated, but areas that were good (or bad) for native plants were even better (or worse) for exotics. Similar processes appear to influence exotic and native plant diversity but the degree of this influence may differ with site quality.