Submitted to: Ecological Indicators
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2014
Publication Date: 7/15/2014
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/59526
Citation: Toledo, D.N., Sanderson, M.A., Johnson, H.A., Reeves, J.L., Derner, J.D., Vermeire, L.T., Hendrickson, J.R. 2014. Evaluating plant biodiversity measurements and exotic species detection in National Resources Inventory Sampling protocols using examples from the Northern Great Plains of the USA. Ecological Indicators. 46:149-155.
Interpretive Summary: There is growing concerns about the threat of native plant biodiversity loss and exotic species invasions on key ecological functions and processes across the Northern Great Plains of the US. However, knowledge about the accuracy of indicators used to evaluate plant species richness and presence of exotic species is limited. In this study we collected plant biodiversity and exotic species richness data from 4 sites in the Northern Great Plains using the Modified Whitaker (MW) and Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) methods to evaluate accuracy and precision around indicators generated from these methods. NRI protocols underestimated both total plant species richness and exotic species richness compared with the MW approach. NRI also underestimated the number of species with less than 1% canopy foliar cover. This indicates that changes are needed in NRI method protocols to adequately detect overall species richness and any species with reduced canopy foliar cover, especially exotic species with the potential to invade a site. Land managers will benefit from accurate species richness assessments and the ability to detect potentially invasive species during early stages of invasion.
Technical Abstract: Native plant biodiversity loss and exotic species invasions are threatening the ability of many ecosystems to maintain key functions and processes. We currently lack detailed plant biodiversity data at a national scale with which to make management decisions and recommendations based on current conservation challenges. We collected plant biodiversity and exotic species richness data from 4 sites in the Northern Great Plains using the Modified Whitaker (MW) and Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) methods to evaluate any major differences between indicators generated from these methods and offer recommendations based on findings. Our data indicated that the NRI protocols underestimated both total plant species richness and exotic species richness compared with the MW approach. More importantly, however, results show that biodiversity indicators from the two methods showed similar trends. Increasing time spent on making species richness measurements and implementing a more systematic approach to detecting species within a plot could improve biodiversity inventory and monitoring efforts in NRI while also providing a link between existing long-term data and any new information collected. These adjustments would ultimately help those interested in adopting NRI methods and using plant biodiversity data to increase the amount and quality of information collected.