Biological Invasions

, 11:1451 | Cite as

Does Prunus serotina act as an aggressive invader in areas with a low propagule pressure?

  • Margot VanhellemontEmail author
  • Kris Verheyen
  • Luc De Keersmaeker
  • Kris Vandekerkhove
  • Martin Hermy
Original Paper


Since most studies on Prunus serotina in Western Europe focused on heavily invaded areas, we wondered whether P. serotina also acts as an aggressive invader in areas with a low propagule pressure. Based on long-term data for the Liedekerke forest reserve, we found that connectivity to seed sources and light availability were the major drivers of P. serotina presence: long-distance dispersal events and ‘windows of opportunity’ seem to direct P. serotina colonization. In the studied forest, P. serotina could not be considered an aggressive invader since its spread slowed down rather quickly and did not hamper the establishment of native tree species. Furthermore, understory P. serotina showed low growth and seed production, while the high Rubus cover hampered germination and establishment. Nonetheless, calamities opening up the canopy layer in the few areas with high P. serotina sapling density might alter the course of the invasion process.


Colonization Connectivity Forest development Diameter growth Invasion pattern Logistic regression Prunus serotina Rubus spp. 



The authors thank the Agency for Nature and Forests for the permission to work in the Liedekerke forest reserve; Bart De Cuyper, Diego Van Den Meersschaut, and the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) for the use of the inventory data of 1986, 1996/1998, and 2006, respectively; the fieldwork team of the INBO for the additional field measurements within the framework of this study; Els De Lathauwer for her assistance in the field and with tree ring measurements; Kristof Haneca for the use of and help with the LINTAB; Quinten Vanhellemont for his contribution to the figures; Patrick Huvenne and two anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. The first author held a scholarship from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), and the study was supported financially by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University (BOF).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margot Vanhellemont
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kris Verheyen
    • 1
  • Luc De Keersmaeker
    • 2
  • Kris Vandekerkhove
    • 2
  • Martin Hermy
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of ForestryGhent UniversityGontrodeBelgium
  2. 2.Research Institute for Nature and ForestGeraardsbergenBelgium
  3. 3.Division ForestNature and Landscape, K. U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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