Alien flora of India: taxonomic composition, invasion status and biogeographic affiliations
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- Khuroo, A.A., Reshi, Z.A., Malik, A.H. et al. Biol Invasions (2012) 14: 99. doi:10.1007/s10530-011-9981-2
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The wide knowledge gaps in invasion biology research that exist in the developing world are crucial impediments to the scientific management and global policymaking on biological invasions. In an effort to fill such knowledge gaps, we present here an inventory of the alien flora of India, based on systematic reviews and rigorous analyses of research studies (ca. 190) published over the last 120 years (1890–2010 AD), and updated with field records of the last two decades. Currently, the inventory comprises of 1,599 species, belonging to 842 genera in 161 families, and constitutes 8.5% of the total Indian vascular flora. The three most species-rich families are Asteraceae (134 spp.), Papilionaceae (114 spp.) and Poaceae (106 spp.), and the three largest genera are Eucalyptus (25 spp.), Ipomoea (22 spp.), and Senna (21 spp.). The majority of these species (812) have no report of escaping from cultivation. Of the remaining subset of 787 species, which have either escaped from intentional cultivation, or spread after unintentional introduction, casuals are represented by 57 spp., casual/naturalised by 114 spp., naturalised by 257 spp., naturalised/invasive by 134 spp., and invasive by 225 spp. Biogeographically, more than one-third (35%) of the alien flora in India has its native ranges in South America, followed by Asia (21%), Africa (20%), Europe (11%), Australia (8%), North America (4%); and cryptogenic (1%). The inventory is expected to serve as the scientific baseline on plant invasions in India, with implications for conservation of global biodiversity.