Original Paper

Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2691-2701

First online:

Ecological preferences of alien plant species in North-Eastern Germany

  • Florian JansenAffiliated withInstitute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald Email author 
  • , Jörg EwaldAffiliated withFaculty of Forestry, University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf
  • , Stefan ZerbeAffiliated withFaculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen–Bolzano, Piazza Università 5

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The large, comprehensive vegetation database of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern/NE Germany with 51,328 relevés allowed us to study an entire regional flora of 133 non-native plants (NNP, immigration after 1492 AD) with regard to their preferences to all kinds of habitats and along different ecological gradients. For each relevé, we computed average Ellenberg indicator values (EIV) for temperature, light, moisture, reaction, nutrients and salt as well as plant strategy type weights. We partitioned the dataset into relevés with and without occurrences of NNP and compared them with respect to the relative frequencies of EIVs and strategy type weights. We identified deviations from random differences by testing against permuted indicator values. To account for bias in EIV between community types, NNP preferences were differentiated for 34 phytosociological classes. We tested significance of preferences for the group of NNP as a whole, as well as for single NNP species within the entire dataset, as well as differentiated by phytosociological classes and formations. NNP as a group prefer communities with high EIVs for temperature and nutrients and low EIVs for moisture. They avoid communities with low EIV for reaction and high EIV for salt. NNP prefer communities with high proportions of ruderal and low proportion of stress strategists. The differentiation by phytosociological classes reinforces the general trends for temperature, nutrients, moisture, R and S strategy types. Nevertheless, preferences of single species reveal that NNP are not a congruent group but show individualistic ecological preferences.


Co-occurrence Ellenberg indicator values Level of invasion Phytosociological database Vegetation change Succession Strategy types