Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 5, pp 3931–3957 | Cite as

The new flora of northeastern USA: quantifying introduced plant species occupancy in forest ecosystems



Introduced plant species have significant negative impacts in many ecosystems and are found in many forests around the world. Some factors linked to the distribution of introduced species include fragmentation and disturbance, native species richness, and climatic and physical conditions of the landscape. However, there are few data sources that enable the assessment of introduced species occupancy in native plant communities over broad regions. Vegetation data from 1,302 forest inventory plots across 24 states in northeastern and mid-western USA were used to examine and compare the distribution of introduced species in relation to forest fragmentation across ecological provinces and forest types, and to examine correlations between native and introduced species richness. There were 305 introduced species recorded, and 66 % of all forested plots had at least one introduced species. Forest edge plots had higher constancy and occupancy of introduced species than intact forest plots, but the differences varied significantly among ecological provinces and, to a lesser degree, forest types. Weak but significant positive correlations between native and introduced species richness were observed most often in intact forests. Rosa multiflora was the most common introduced species recorded across the region, but Hieracium aurantiacum and Epipactus helleborine were dominant in some ecological provinces. Identifying regions and forest types with high and low constancies and occupation by introduced species can help target forest stands where management actions will be the most effective. Identifying seemingly benign introduced species that are more prevalent than realized will help focus attention on newly emerging invasives.


Plant invasions Forest plant communities Inventory Probabilistic sample Fragmentation Ecological regions 



Forest Inventory and Analysis


Vegetation Indicator


Northern Research Station


Pearson correlation coefficient



The authors would like to thank the Northern Research Station for implementing the Vegetation Indicator across their states and specifically to Cassandra Olson and Katherine Johnson for training and supporting the vegetation specialists who collected the data. We also appreciate the advice and support of key information managers: Kevin Dobelbower designed the database to accommodate several interim versions of the protocols, Chuck Veneklase programmed the personal data recorders, and Lisa Mahal made sure all the parts and pieces worked together within the larger Forest Inventory and Analysis data management system.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research StationAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA

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