A Framework for Evaluating Heterogeneity and Landscape-Level Impacts of Non-native Aquatic Species
Non-native species are a major component of global environmental change, and aquatic systems are especially vulnerable to non-native species impacts. Much of the research on aquatic non-native species impact has occurred at the local or site level. In reality, non-native species impacts play out across multiple spatial scales on heterogeneous landscapes. How can we ‘scale up’ our understanding of site-level impacts to the broader landscape scale? To address this disconnect, we synthesize our current understanding of key components of landscape-scale non-native species impacts: geographic range, abundance, and local impacts. Most aquatic non-native species have small ranges, while a few have large ranges. However, aquatic non-native species are often far from saturated on landscapes, and occurrence records are often woefully incomplete. Aquatic non-native species are often at low abundances where they are present, reaching high abundance in a small number of locations. Finally, local-scale impact can be estimated from abundance, but this requires knowledge of the abundance–impact relationship. Considering these multiple components enables understanding of non-native species impacts at broader spatial scales. Although the landscape-level impacts of aquatic non-native species may be high, the spatial distribution of site-level impacts is uneven, and highly impacted sites may be relatively uncommon. This heterogeneity in impacts provides an opportunity to optimize and prioritize non-native species management and prevention efforts.