Determinants of non-native plant species richness and composition across small Mediterranean islands
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- Pretto, F., Celesti-Grapow, L., Carli, E. et al. Biol Invasions (2012) 14: 2559. doi:10.1007/s10530-012-0252-7
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The main aim of this paper is to assess the drivers of non-native plant species richness and composition on a set of 37 small Mediterranean islands in Italy. We compiled the list of the non-native flora and distinguished species according to their establishment status. The non-native flora of the islands studied consists of 154 species, 105 of which are established on at least one island. Regression tree analysis revealed that the main determinants of both total non-native and established non-native species richness are the variables linked to tourist development and the sprawl of artificial surfaces. The variation partitioning approach shows that the variation in total non-native flora composition is driven above all by environmental variables, whereas when established taxa are considered, human-mediated factors account for most of the explained variation. Mediterranean islands have recently experienced changes in the type and intensity of human activities, leading to a decline in rural landscape and the development of tourist facilities. Our results indicate that tourism and the increase in the extension of artificial surfaces are also the main drivers of non-native plant species occurrence and establishment. These factors outweigh the effects of abiotic variables such as climate and lithology in determining the number of non-native species, whether it be total or established, as well as variations in the composition of established species. High human pressure and ornamental introductions associated with tourist activities appear to be the key elements that need to be considered when planning strategies aimed at managing plant invasions in Mediterranean islands.