Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1267–1281 | Cite as

Historical anthropogenic disturbances influence patterns of non-native earthworm and plant invasions in a temperate primary forest

  • Robin BeauséjourEmail author
  • I. Tanya Handa
  • Martin J. Lechowicz
  • Benjamin Gilbert
  • Mark Vellend
Original Paper


Time lags are of potentially great importance during biological invasions. For example, significant delays can occur between the human activities permitting the arrival of an invader, the establishment of this new species, and the manifestation of its impacts. In this context, to assess the influence of anthropogenic disturbances, it may become necessary to include a historical perspective. In this study, we reconstructed the history of human activities in a temperate forest now protected as a nature reserve to evaluate the magnitude and duration of the impact of human disturbances (e.g. trails, old quarries), as well as environmental factors, in explaining the probability of occurrence and the intensity of invasion by non-native earthworms and plants. The present-day patterns of distribution and intensity of earthworms and plants were better explained by proximity to the oldest human disturbances (initiated more than a century ago) than by proximity to more recent disturbances or to all disturbances combined. We conclude that understanding present-day patterns of non-native species invasions may often require reconstructing the history of human disturbances that occurred decades or even centuries in the past.


Human activities Ecological legacies Nature reserve Lumbricidae Taraxacum officinalis Historical ecology Time lag 



We are grateful to McGill University for its stewardship of the Gault Nature Reserve. Thank you to David Maneli for logistic support, Anne-Sophie Goyette, Leonardo Claver Garcia and Véronique Demers for field and laboratory assistance, and the professionals of the Centre d’Étude de la Forêt Mélanie Desrochers, Daniel Lessieur and Marc Mazerolle for technical support. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Financial support was provided through Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grants to MV and ITH and graduate scholarships to RB from NSERC and the Fonds de Recheche du Québec Nature et Technologies.

Supplementary material

10530_2014_794_MOESM1_ESM.docx (254 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 253 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Beauséjour
    • 1
    Email author
  • I. Tanya Handa
    • 2
  • Martin J. Lechowicz
    • 3
  • Benjamin Gilbert
    • 4
  • Mark Vellend
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de biologieUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada
  2. 2.Département de sciences biologiquesUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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