Publication details

Separating habitat invasibility by alien plants from the actual level of invasion



Year of publication 2008
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Ecology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Ecology
Keywords archaeophyte; biological invasions; Central Europe; Czech Republic; disturbance; exotic species; invasion resistance; neophyte; plant community; propagule pressure
Description Habitats vary considerably in the level of invasion (number or proportion of alien plant species they contain), which depends on local habitat properties, propagule pressure, and climate. To determine the invasibility (susceptibility to invasions) of different habitats, it is necessary to factor out the effects of any confounding variables such as propagule pressure and climate on the level of invasion. We used 20 468 vegetation plots from 32 habitats in the Czech Republic to compare the invasibility of different habitats. Using regression trees, the proportion of alien plants, including archaeophytes (prehistoric to medieval invaders) and neophytes (recent invaders), was related to variables representing habitat properties, propagule pressure, and climate. The propagule pressure was expressed as the proportion of surrounding urban and industrial or agricultural land, human population density, distance from a river, and history of human colonization in the region. Urban and industrial land use had a positive effect on the proportion of both archaeophytes and neophytes. Agricultural land use, higher population density, and longer history of human impact positively affected the proportion of archaeophytes. Disturbed human-made habitats with herbaceous vegetation were most invaded by both groups of aliens. Neophytes were also relatively common in disturbed woody vegetation, such as broad-leaved plantations, forest clearings, and riverine scrub. These habitats also had the highest proportion of aliens after removing the effect of propagule pressure and climate, indicating that they are not only the most invaded, but also most invasible. These habitats experience recurrent disturbances and are rich, at least temporarily, in available nutrients, which supports the hypothesis that fluctuating resources are the major cause of habitat invasibility. The least invaded habitats were mires and alpine-subalpine grasslands and scrub. After removing the effect of propagule pressure and climate, some habitats actually invaded at an intermediate level had very low proportions of aliens. This indicates that these habitats (e.g., dry, wet, and saline grasslands, base-rich fens, and broad-leaved deciduous woodlands) are resistant to invasion.
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