A two-part measure of degree of invasion for cross-community comparisons
Invasibility is a critical feature of ecological communities, especially for management decisions. To date, invasibility has been measured in numerous ways. Although most researchers have used the richness (or number) of exotic species as a direct or indirect measure of community invasibility, others have used alternative measures such as the survival, density, or biomass of either a single or all exotic species. These different measures, even when obtained from the same communities, have produced inconsistent results and have made comparisons among communities difficult. Here, we propose a measure of the degree of invasion (DI) of a community as a surrogate for community invasibility. The measure is expressed as 2 independent components: exotic proportion of total species richness and exotic proportion of total species abundance (biomass or cover). By including richness and abundance, the measure reflects that the factors that control invasibility affect both of these components. Expressing exotic richness and abundance relative to the richness and abundance of all species in a community makes comparisons across communities of different sizes and resource availability possible and illustrates the importance of dominance of exotic species relative to natives, which is a primary management concern associated with exotic species.