Dominant species play key roles in shaping community structure, but their behavior is far from uniform. We speculated that recognition of different behaviors (determined objectively) would be an indicator of the condition of plant communities. We developed a species dominance index (SDI) to identify dominant species and compare their behavior across multiple spatial scales. The SDI is based on three attributes (mean cover, mean species suppression, and tendency toward high cover), and it identifies up to 38 dominants within 74 Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Dichotomizing each of the attributes in a 2×2×2 matrix produced seven dominant behaviors, or forms, all of which occurred in Great Lakes wetlands. Species showed different dominant forms among locations and aggregation scales. Showing predominantly “monotype” form, invasive Typha was the taxon that was most often dominant in the samples. By quantitatively measuring dominance and describing dominance form, SDI can add insight into community change and is a useful addition to indicators of community condition.
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Vol. 33 • No. sp3