Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 503–523 | Cite as

Native faunal communities depend on habitat from non-native plants in novel but not in natural ecosystems

  • Jasmin G. PackerEmail author
  • Steve Delean
  • Christoph Kueffer
  • Jane Prider
  • Kirstin Abley
  • José M. Facelli
  • Susan M. Carthew
Original Paper


Invasive non-native plants are a major driver of native biodiversity loss, yet native biodiversity can sometimes benefit from non-native species. Depending on habitat context, even the same non-native species can have positive and negative effects on biodiversity. Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) is a useful model organism to better understand a non-native plant with conflicting impacts on biodiversity. We used a replicated capture-mark-recapture study across 11 consecutive seasons to examine the response of small mammal diversity and abundance to vegetation structure and density associated with non-native blackberry (R. anglocandicans) in native, hybrid and blackberry-dominated novel ecosystems in Australia. Across the three habitat types, increasing blackberry dominance had a positive influence on mammal diversity, while the strength and direction of this influence varied for abundance. At a microhabitat scale within hybrid and native habitat there were no significant differences in diversity, or the abundance of most species, between microhabitats where blackberry was absent versus dominant. In contrast, in novel ecosystems diversity and abundances were very low without blackberry, yet high (comparable to native ecosystems) within blackberry as it provided functionally-analogous vegetation structure and density to the lost native understory. Our results indicate the ecological functions of non-native plant species vary depending on habitat and need to be considered for management. Comparative studies such as ours that apply a standardized approach across a broad range of conditions at the landscape and habitat scale are crucial for guiding land managers on control options for non-native species (remove, reduce or retain and contain) that are context-sensitive and scale-dependent.


Analogue Facilitative Invasive Rubus Small mammals Southern brown bandicoot 



This research was funded by the School of Biological Sciences, The University of Adelaide (JGP), the Government of South Australia (JGP & SMC), Australian Geographic (JGP) and the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment (JGP & SMC). We gratefully acknowledge the support of all our fabulous field volunteers (especially Apu Kadam, Brian Matthews and Natalie Andrews) and generous land owner hosts (especially Della, Louise, Andrew and Liz), who made this research possible.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Research was approved by the University of Adelaide Animal Ethics Committee (S-094-2007) and the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage (U25562-1).

Supplementary material

10531_2016_1059_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 5467 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Transdisciplinary Lab, Department of Environmental Systems ScienceSwiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Systems ScienceInstitute of Integrative Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)ZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of Primary Industries & RegionsBiosecurity SAAdelaideAustralia
  5. 5.Department of EnvironmentNatural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Water and Natural ResourcesAdelaideAustralia
  6. 6.Research Institute for Environment and LivelihoodsCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia

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