, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 547-557
Date: 10 Aug 2012

Landscape context modulates alien plant invasion in Mediterranean forest edges

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Abstract

Natural habitats in human-altered landscapes are especially vulnerable to biological invasions, especially in their edges. We aim to understand the influence of landscape and local characteristics on biological invasions by exploring the level of plant invasion and alien species traits in forest edges in highly urbanized landscapes. We identified all plant species in 73 paired plots in the edge and 50 m towards the interior of the forest. We explored the association between alien species richness and similarity in species composition between edge and interior plots with landscape and local variables, using generalized linear models and variance partitioning techniques. Then, we performed Fourth-corner analyses to explore the association between alien plant traits and local and landscape variables. In contrast to native species richness, alien species richness was more affected by the surrounding landscape than by the local characteristics of the edge. Road proximity was positively associated with alien species richness and proportion and was its most important correlate, whereas disturbance was negatively associated with native species richness and was its most influential factor. Alien plant traits were also primarily associated with landscape characteristics. For instance, species of Mediterranean origin and introduced for agriculture were associated with higher agriculture use in the landscape. Our findings suggest that risk analyses of habitat vulnerability to invasion must consider the landscape context in order to successfully predict highly invaded areas and identify potentially successful invaders.