Contrasting historical and current land-use correlation with diverse components of current alien plant invasions in Mediterranean habitats
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Habitat invasion by alien plants is strongly modulated by environmental and landscape factors. However, the effect of landscape history remains largely unknown, despite the fact that it could play an important role in many stages of invasion processes, even long after land-use changes have occurred determining invasion debts. We analysed the effects of past landscape and recent changes therein, together with habitat type and current context (i.e. climate, topography and landscape), on three components of the invasion process at habitat scale: alien species presence (i.e. at least one alien species occurring), richness (number of species found) and abundance (mean species cover). We selected 531 plots in nine habitat types in Barcelona province (7725 km2) and recorded alien (neophyte) species cover. We performed Generalized Linear Models on these invasion components using the generated data and a set of predictors of habitat, context and landscape factors obtained from plot sampling and digital cartography. The results show that invasion components are affected by diverse habitat and context factors and, in some cases, by landscape history. Alien species presence is influenced by habitat type and the current environmental context, and by the number of habitat changes in the adjacent landscape; on the other hand, species richness is only associated with the current context and species abundance is only influenced by historical cropland cover. The association between alien species presence and abundance and past and recent landscape changes suggests the existence of accumulated invasion debts at habitat scale that might be relevant to habitat management.
KeywordsAlien species colonization Alien species spread Habitat invasibility Land-use legacy Invasion credit Invasion degree
This study has been supported by the EXOCAT and the SITxell projects, funded by the autonomous government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya) and the Barcelona County Council (Diputació de Barcelona), respectively.
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