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Keywords:

  • Biogeography;
  • biological invasions;
  • California;
  • GIS;
  • spatial autocorrelation;
  • spatial autoregressive models

ABSTRACT

The spatial distribution of invasive alien plants has been poorly documented in California. However, with the increased availability of GIS software and spatially explicit data, the distribution of invasive alien plants can be explored. Using bioregions as defined in Hickman (1993), I compared the distribution of invasive alien plants (n = 78) and noninvasive alien plants (n = 1097). The distribution of both categories of alien plants was similar with the exception of a higher concentration of invasive alien plants in the North Coast bioregion. Spatial autocorrelation analysis using Moran's I indicated significant spatial dependence for both invasive and noninvasive alien plant species. I used both ordinary least squares (OLS) and spatial autoregressive (SAR) models to assess the relationship between alien plant species distribution and native plant species richness, road density, population density, elevation, area of sample unit, and precipitation. The OLS model for invasive alien plants included two significant effects; native plant species richness and elevation. The SAR model for invasive alien plants included three significant effects; elevation, road density, and native plant species richness. The SAR model for noninvasive alien plants resulted in the same significant effects as invasive alien plants. Both invasive and noninvasive alien plants are found in regions with low elevation, high road density, and high native-plant species richness. This is in congruity with previous spatial pattern studies of alien plant species. However, the similarity in effects for both categories of alien plants alludes to the importance of autecological attributes, such as pollination system, dispersal system and differing responses to disturbance in the distribution of invasive plant species. In addition, this study emphasizes the critical importance of testing for spatial autocorrelation in spatial pattern studies and using SAR models when appropriate.