Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 3461–3473 | Cite as

Running off the road: roadside non-native plants invading mountain vegetation

  • Keith L. McDougallEmail author
  • Jonas Lembrechts
  • Lisa J. Rew
  • Sylvia Haider
  • Lohengrin A. Cavieres
  • Christoph Kueffer
  • Ann Milbau
  • Bridgett J. Naylor
  • Martin A. Nuñez
  • Anibal Pauchard
  • Tim Seipel
  • Karina L. Speziale
  • Genevieve T. Wright
  • Jake M. Alexander
Original Paper


Prevention is regarded as a cost-effective management action to avoid unwanted impacts of non-native species. However, targeted prevention can be difficult if little is known about the traits of successfully invading non-native species or habitat characteristics that make native vegetation more resistant to invasion. Here, we surveyed mountain roads in seven regions worldwide, to investigate whether different species traits are beneficial during primary invasion (i.e. spread of non-native species along roadside dispersal corridors) and secondary invasion (i.e. percolation from roadsides into natural adjacent vegetation), and to determine if particular habitat characteristics increase biotic resistance to invasion. We found primary invasion up mountain roads tends to be by longer lived, non-ruderal species without seed dispersal traits. For secondary invasion, we demonstrate that both traits of the non-native species and attributes of the receiving natural vegetation contribute to the extent of invasion. Non-native species that invade natural adjacent vegetation tend to be shade and moisture tolerant. Furthermore, non-native species invasion was greater when the receiving vegetation was similarly rich in native species. Our results show how mountain roads define which non-native species are successful; first by favouring certain traits in mountain roadsides (the key dispersal pathway to the top), and secondly by requiring a different set of traits when species invade the natural adjacent vegetation. While patterns in species traits were observed at a global level, regional abiotic and biotic variables largely generated region-specific levels of response, suggesting that management should be regionally driven.


Biotic resistance Elevation gradient Management Primary invasion Secondary invasion Traits 



Neville Walsh (Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne) assisted with data collection in Australia, Laurenz Teuber in Norway, and Damiano Righetti collected the data in Switzerland. Data and contributions by LR and TS are supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch: MONB00363. LC and AP acknowledge funding from ICM 05-002 and CONICYT PFB-023, which supports the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB), and FONDECYT 1151007 and 1180205. JJL acknowledges funding by the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO). BJN, Josh Averett and Kent Coe lead the data collection efforts in Oregon and funding was provided by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1787_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)
10530_2018_1787_MOESM2_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith L. McDougall
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jonas Lembrechts
    • 3
  • Lisa J. Rew
    • 4
  • Sylvia Haider
    • 5
    • 6
  • Lohengrin A. Cavieres
    • 7
  • Christoph Kueffer
    • 8
    • 9
  • Ann Milbau
    • 10
  • Bridgett J. Naylor
    • 11
  • Martin A. Nuñez
    • 12
  • Anibal Pauchard
    • 13
    • 14
  • Tim Seipel
    • 4
  • Karina L. Speziale
    • 15
  • Genevieve T. Wright
    • 1
  • Jake M. Alexander
    • 16
  1. 1.Office of Environment and HeritageQueanbeyanAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Environment and EvolutionLa Trobe UniversityWodongaAustralia
  3. 3.Centre of Excellence on Plant and Vegetation Ecology, CDE C.007University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.Department of Land Resources and Environmental SciencesMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  5. 5.Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Institute of BiologyMartin Luther University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  6. 6.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  7. 7.Departamento de Botánica, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y OceanográficasUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  8. 8.Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB)SantiagoChile
  9. 9.Institute of Integrative Biology, Department of Environmental Systems ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  10. 10.Research Institute for Nature and Forest – INBOBrusselsBelgium
  11. 11.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationLa GrandeUSA
  12. 12.Grupo de Ecología de InvasionesINIBIOMA, CONICET, Universidad Nacional del ComahueBarilocheArgentina
  13. 13.Laboratorio de Invasiones Biológicas (LIB), Facultad de Ciencias ForestalesUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  14. 14.Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB)SantiagoChile
  15. 15.Grupo de Biología de la Conservación, Laboratorio EcotonoINIBIOMA (CONICET-UNCOMA)BarilocheArgentina
  16. 16.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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