Drivers of species richness, biomass, and dominance of invasive macrophytes in temperate lakes.
Presence and abundance of invasive species depend on likelihood of introduction and environmental limitations to their distributions. Propagule pressure and anthropogenic disturbance are hypothesized to increase invasions, yet assessing the importance of propagule pressure and anthropogenic factors independently is challenging, and properties of invaded systems (e.g., habitat availability) likely contribute to invasions. We sampled macrophyte assemblages in 20 lakes in New York, varying in boater visitations and number of previous waterbodies visited, to test if increased propagule risk (proxy for propagule pressure measuring potential for introducing invasives from different sources) resulted in greater species richness, biomass (g/m2) and dominance (% invasive biomass) of invasive macrophytes. We then tested watershed land use, in-lake water properties, and lake morphology on presence, abundance, and dominance of invasive macrophytes. Increased propagule risk resulted in greater species richness of invasive macrophytes. In invaded lakes, increased abundance of invasive macrophytes was correlated with increased agriculture in watersheds and littoral:total area. Increased dominance of invasive macrophytes was observed in lakes with greater littoral:total areas. Results suggest propagule risk can explain spatial variability in macrophyte invasions, while area-specific biomass in invaded lakes can be correlated with watershed and in-lake water properties. In lakes with increased suitable habitat (relative proportion of littoral:total area ratio), invasive macrophytes may dominate aquatic plant assemblages. Many factors correlated with the abundance of invasive macrophytes are not easily managed (e.g., watershed agricultural land use and lake morphology). Limiting introductions of propagules is likely the best approach to prevent macrophyte invasions, especially at high risk lakes.