A standardized set of metrics to assess and monitor tree invasions
van Wilgen, B.W.
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Scientists, managers, and policy-makers need functional and effective metrics to improve our understanding and management of biological invasions. Such metrics would help to assess progress towards management goals, increase compatibility across administrative borders, and facilitate comparisons between invasions. Here we outline key characteristics of tree invasions (status, abundance, spatial extent, and impact), discuss how each of these characteristics changes with time, and examine potential metrics to describe and monitor them. We recommend quantifying tree invasions using six metrics: (a) current status in the region; (b) potential status; (c) the number of foci requiring management; (d) area of occupancy (AOO) (i.e. compressed canopy area or net infestation); (e) extent of occurrence (EOO) (i.e. range size or gross infestation); and (f) observations of current and potential impact. We discuss how each metric can be parameterised (e.g. we include a practical method for classifying the current stage of invasion for trees following Blackburn’s unified framework for biological invasions); their potential management value (e.g. EOO provides an indication of the area over which management is needed); and how they can be used in concert (e.g. combining AOO and EOO can provide insights into invasion dynamics; and we use potential status and threat together to develop a simple risk analysis tool). Based on these metrics, we propose a standardized template for reporting tree invasions that we hope will facilitate cross-species and inter-regional comparisons. While we feel this represents a valuable step towards standardized reporting, there is an urgent need to develop more consistent metrics for impact and threat, and for many specific purposes additional metrics are still needed (e.g. detectability is required to assess the feasibility of eradication).