, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 1505-1518
Date: 07 Sep 2010

Rural housing is related to plant invasions in forests of southern Wisconsin, USA

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Forests throughout the US are invaded by non-native invasive plants. Rural housing may contribute to non-native plant invasions by introducing plants via landscaping, and by creating habitat conditions favorable for invaders. The objective of this paper was to test the hypothesis that rural housing is a significant factor explaining the distribution of invasive non-native plants in temperate forests of the Midwestern US. In the Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin, we sampled 105 plots in forest interiors. We recorded richness and abundance of the most common invasive non-native plants and measured rural housing, human-caused landscape fragmentation (e.g. roads and forest edges), forest structure and topography. We used regression analysis to identify the variables more related to the distribution of non-native invasive plants (best subset and hierarchical partitioning analyses for richness and abundance and logistic regression for presence/absence of individual species). Housing variables had the strongest association with richness of non-native invasive plants along with distance to forest edge and elevation, while the number of houses in a 1 km buffer around each plot was the variable most strongly associated with abundance of non-native invasive plants. Rhamnus cathartica and Lonicera spp. were most strongly associated with rural housing and fragmentation. Berberis thumbergii and Rosa multiflora were associated with gentle slopes and low elevation, while Alliaria petiolata was associated with higher cover of native vegetation and stands with no recent logging history. Housing development inside or adjacent to forests of high conservation value and the use of non-native invasive plants for landscaping should be discouraged.