, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 1433-1445
Date: 26 Jun 2010

Effects of land-use history and the contemporary landscape on non-native plant invasion at local and regional scales in the forest-dominated southern Appalachians

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Determining what factors explain the distribution of non-native invasive plants that can spread in forest-dominated landscapes could advance understanding of the invasion process and identify forest areas most susceptible to invasion. We conducted roadside surveys to determine the presence and abundance of 15 non-native plant species known to invade forests in western North Carolina, USA. Generalized linear models were used to examine how contemporary and historic land use, landscape context, and topography influenced presence and abundance of the species at local and regional scales. The most commonly encountered species were Microstegium vimineum, Rosa multiflora, Lonicera japonica, Celastrus orbiculatus, Ligustrum sinense, and Dioscorea oppositifolia. At the regional scale, distance to city center was the most important explanatory variable, with species more likely present and more abundant in watersheds closer to Asheville, NC. Many focal species were also more common in watersheds at lower elevation and with less forest cover. At the local scale, elevation was important for explaining the species’ presence, but forest cover and land-use history were more important for explaining their abundance. In general, species were more common in plots with less forest cover and more area reforested since the 1940s. Our results underscore the importance of considering both the contemporary landscape and historic land use to understand plant invasion in forest-dominated landscapes.