Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1317–1323 | Cite as

The tree fern Dicksonia antarctica invades two habitats of European conservation priority in São Miguel Island, Azores

  • María L. Arosa
  • Ricardo S. Ceia
  • Luis G. Quintanilla
  • Jaime A. Ramos
Invasion Note


Sixty fern species are considered problematic worldwide because of their invasiveness, but only two of them are tree ferns. This paper reports the invasion by the Australian tree fern Dicksonia antarctica to the eastern part of São Miguel Island (Azores archipelago—Portugal). It probably escaped from cultivation in the nineteenth century and has spread to an area of over 48 km2, mainly at high altitude (>500 m a.s.l.). The invaded area is characterized by high precipitation (mean = 2,857 mm/year), high relative humidity (mean = 96.4%), and mild temperatures (mean = 12.1°C). The species has invaded forest plantations, exotic forests and two habitats of European conservation priority: native laurel forests and blanket bogs. Dicksonia antarctica plantlets (individuals with no trunk) were predominant in exotic forests,D. antarctica shrubs (trunk height < 1 m) were most frequent in blanket bogs and forest plantations whereas trees (trunk height > 1 m) in gardens. Blanket bogs had the maximum percentage (90%) of fertile individuals (i.e. with sporangia). The large size and poor access of invaded area makes full eradication from the island impossible. We recommend complete elimination in blanket bogs and to take control measures in native laurel forests as these are priority conservation habitats.


Blanket bog Invasive Laurel forest Macaronesia Pteridophyta Soft tree fern 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • María L. Arosa
    • 1
  • Ricardo S. Ceia
    • 2
    • 3
  • Luis G. Quintanilla
    • 4
  • Jaime A. Ramos
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Centre for Functional EcologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das AvesLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Life Sciences, Institute of Marine Research (IMAR/CMA)University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Departamento de Biología y GeologíaUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMóstoles (Madrid)Spain
  5. 5.Department of Life Sciences, Institute of Marine Research (IMAR/CMA)University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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