Alpine Botany

, Volume 128, Issue 2, pp 169–178 | Cite as

Distribution of non-native plant species along elevation gradients in a protected area in the eastern Himalayas, China

  • Mingyu Yang
  • Zheng Lu
  • Zhongyu Fan
  • Xia Liu
  • Luc Hens
  • Robert De Wulf
  • Xiaokun Ou
Original Article


Mountain ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened by non-native plant invasions. In this paper, the occurrence of non-native plant species was examined in a protected area (Laojun Mountain Area) in the eastern Himalayas, China. Sampling plots were systematically set up along elevation from 1950 to 3500 m a.s.l. Sixty-one non-natives were recorded that account for 24% of the roadside flora. The number of non-native species decreased continuously with increasing elevation and significant nestedness was found between the low- and high-elevation plots. Moreover, all non-native species distributed at high elevation were also found at low elevation and mountain specialists were not found among non-natives. These results indicate that the eastern Himalayan ecosystem is not immune to invasion and most of the non-natives spread from lowland areas upward to the highlands. Future efforts to manage plant invasions in this region should concentrate on low-elevation areas where agriculture and disturbances by tourism are increasing rapidly.


Non-native plant Elevation gradient Distribution pattern Nestedness Himalayan ecosystem 



We especially thank undergraduate students of Chaoli Yu, Juping Zhang, Lishuang Peng and Chaofan Guo from Yunnan University for assisting our field investigations. We would also like to thank Dr. Jake Alexander from Université de Lausanne for his advice on nestedness analysis. Finally, we are grateful to three referees for their valuable comments on previous versions of the manuscript. During the preparation of this work, the authors were supported by a project financed by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41401641).

Author Contributions

MY, LH, RDW and XKO designed the research. MY, ZL, ZF and XL performed field sampling and data analyses. All authors contributed to manuscript writing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Swiss Botanical Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and GeobotanyYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.Lijiang Alpine Botanic Garden, Chinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina
  3. 3.College of ForestryNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Flemish Institute for Technological ResearchMolBelgium
  5. 5.Laboratory of Forest Management and Spatial Information TechniquesUniversiteit GentGhentBelgium

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