Plant Ecology

, Volume 210, Issue 1, pp 153–167 | Cite as

The influence of urban land use on seed dispersal and wetland invasibility

  • Heather Bowman CutwayEmail author
  • Joan G. Ehrenfeld


Urban habitats are generally considered highly invaded by exotic species due to the frequency and extent of disturbance caused by human activities and development. Our previous study had demonstrated that forested wetlands within residential areas are more extensively invaded than wetlands within industrial–commercial areas. In this study, we investigate whether the structure of the forest edge and seed dispersal can explain the differential in the invasion of wetlands surrounded by industrial and residential land use. Our results indicate that edges of industrially bordered wetlands are denser, with vegetation concentrated at the boundary of tree growth, whereas the edges of residentially bordered wetlands are more open and diffuse. This difference influences the number of seeds and species capable of dispersing into the wetland. Less dense edges resulted in a higher number of seeds entering residential wetlands; however, there were no differences in the numbers of exotic seeds or exotic species in the seed rain residential and industrial wetlands. Although seed dispersal could not directly explain differences in the current extent of invasion of these sites, seed dispersal did follow corridor pathways, including ditches and trails that breach the edges and extend through the wetlands. These disturbances act as corridors for seed dispersal into both types wetlands and may play a role in introducing new species to the interior of the wetland, an outcome supported by a higher number of exotic species in the seed banks of residential sites. Our results suggest that both the type of adjoining land use and the provision of access to people on trails in urban wetlands can affect the composition of these communities.


Exotic plant species Forested wetland Industrial Residential Urban Seed dispersal Edge structure 



We thank the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute, Society of Wetland Scientists and Education Foundation of America for funding this study. We also thank Mike Bartels for his assistance with field collections, Matthew I. Palmer for his assistance in plant identification, and Peter Morin and Kenneth Elgersma for their assistance with statistics.


  1. Baldwin A (2004) Restoring complex vegetation in urban settings: the case of tidal freshwater marshes. Urban Ecosyst 7:125–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barney JN, Whitlow TH (2008) A unifying framework for biological invasions: the state factor model. Biol Invasions 10:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartuszevige AM, Hrenko RL, Gorchov DL (2007) Effects of leaf litter on establishment, growth and survival of invasive plant seedlings in a deciduous forest. Am Midl Nat 158:472–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beatty SW (1991) Colonization dynamics in a mosaiclandscape—the buried seed pool. J Biogeogr 18:553–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Belote RT, Jones RH, Hood SM, Wender BW (2008) Diversity-invasibility across an experimental disturbance gradient in Appalachian forests. Ecology 89:183–192CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Benning-Truax M, Vankat JL, Schaefer RL (1992) Trail corridors as habitat and conduits for movement of plant species in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. Landsc Ecol 6:269–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe SH (2000) Bird census techniques, 2nd edn. Academic Press, San Diego, CAGoogle Scholar
  8. Borgmann KL, Rodewald AD (2005) Forest restoration in urbanizing landscapes: interactions between land uses and exotic shrubs. Restor Ecol 13:334–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowman Cutway H (2004) The effects of urban land use and human disturbance on forested wetland invasibility. Ph.D. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJGoogle Scholar
  10. Bowman Cutway H, Ehrenfeld JG (2009) Exotic plant invasions in forested wetlands: effects of adjacent urban land use type. Urban Ecosyst 12:371–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boyer T, Polasky S (2004) Valuing urban wetlands: a review of non-market valuation studies. Wetlands 24:744–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brander LM, Florax RJGM, Vermaat JE (2006) The empirics of wetland valuation: a comprehensive summary and a meta-analysis of the literature. Environ Resour Econ 33:223–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brothers TS, Spingarn A (1992) Forest fragmentation and alien plant invasion of central Indiana old-growth forests. Conserv Biol 61:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cadenasso ML, Pickett STA (2000) Linking forest edge structure to edge function: mediation of herbivore damage. J Ecol 88:31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cadenasso ML, Pickett STA (2001) Effect of edge structure on the flux of species into forest interiors. Conserv Biol 15:91–97Google Scholar
  16. Cadenasso ML, Traynor MM, Pickett STA (1997) Functional location of forest edges: gradients of multiple physical factors. Can J For Res 27:774–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. D’Antonio CM, Dudley TL, Mack MC (1999) Disturbance and biological invasions: direct effects and feedbacks. In: Walker LR (ed) Ecosystems of disturbed ground. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 413–452Google Scholar
  18. Delorit RJ (1970) Illustrated taxonomy manual of weed seeds. Agronomy Publications, River Falls, WIGoogle Scholar
  19. Didham RK, Lawton JH (1999) Edge structure determines the magnitude of changes in microclimate and vegetation structure in tropical forest fragments. Biotropica 31:17–30Google Scholar
  20. DiVittorio CT, Corbin JD, D’Antonio CM (2007) Spatial and temporal patterns of seed dispersal: an important determinant of grassland invasion. Ecol Appl 17:311–316CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Ehrenfeld JG (2004) The expression of multiple functions in urban forested wetlands. Wetlands 24:719–733CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ehrenfeld JG (2005) Vegetation of forested wetlands of urban and suburban landscapes in New Jersey. J Torrey Bot Soc 132:262–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ehrenfeld JG (2008) Exotic invasive species in urban wetlands: environmental correlates and implications for wetland management. J Appl Ecol 45:1160–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ehrenfeld JG, Bowman Cutway H, Hamilton R IV, Stander E (2003) Hydrologic description of forested wetlands in northeastern New Jersey, USA—an urban/suburban region. Wetlands 23:685–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ehrenfeld JG, Palta M, Stander E (in press) Wetlands in urban environments. In: Douglas I, Goode D, Houck M, Wang R (eds) An encyclopedia of urban ecology. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Foster JT, Robinson SK (2007) Introduced birds and the fate of Hawaiian rainforests. Conserv Biol 21:1248–1257CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Fridley JD, Stachowicz JJ, Naeem S, Sax DF, Seabloom EW, Smith MD, Stohlgren TJ, Tilman D, Von Holle B (2007) The invasion paradox: reconciling pattern and process in species invasions. Ecology 88:3–17CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Grieling DA (1993) Greenways to the Arthur Kill: a greenway plan for the Arthur Kill Tributaries. New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Mendham, NJGoogle Scholar
  29. Gurevitch J, Howard TG, Ashton IW, Leger EA, Howe KM, Woo E, Lerdau M (2008) Effects of experimental manipulation of light and nutrients on establishment of seedlings of native and invasive woody species in Long Island, NY forests. Biol Invasions 10:821–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamberg L, Lehvavirta S, Malmivaara-Lamsa M, Rita H, Kotze DJ (2008) The effects of habitat edges and trampling on understorey vegetation in urban forests in Helsinki, Finland. Appl Veg Sci 11:U83–U86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hamberg L, Lehvavirta S, Kotze DJ (2009) Forest edge structure as a shaping factor of understorey vegetation in urban forests in Finland. For Ecol Manage 257:712–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Harper KA, Macdonald SE, Burton PJ, Chen JQ, Brosofske KD, Saunders SC, Euskirchen ES, Roberts D, Jaiteh MS, Esseen PA (2005) Edge influence on forest structure and composition in fragmented landscapes. Conserv Biol 19:768–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Honu YAK, Gibson DJ (2006) Microhabitat factors and the distribution of exotic species across forest edges in temperate deciduous forest of southern Illinois, USA. J Torrey Bot Soc 133:255–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Honu YAK, Gibson DJ (2008) Patterns of invasion: trends in abundance of understory vegetation, seed rain, and seed bank from forest edge to interior. Nat Areas J 28:228–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hopfensperger KN (2007) A review of similarity between seed bank and standing vegetation across ecosystems. Oikos 116:1438–1448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jesson L, Kelly D, Sparrow A (2000) The importance of dispersal, disturbance, and competition for exotic plant invasions in Arthur’s Pass National Park, New Zealand. NZ J Bot 38:451–468Google Scholar
  37. Kartesz JT, Meacham CA (1999) Synthesis of the North American flora, Version 1.0. University of North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NCGoogle Scholar
  38. Kostel-Hughes F, Young TP (1998) The soil seed bank and its relationship to the aboveground vegetation in deciduous forests in New York City. Urban Ecosyst 2:43–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kowarik I (2005) Wild urban woodlands: towards a conceptual framework. In: Kowarik I, Körner S (eds) Wild urban woodlands. Springer-Verlag, Heidleburg, Germany, pp 1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lavorel S, Prieur-Richard AH, Grigulis K (1999) Invasibility and diversity of plant communities: from patterns to process. Divers Distrib 5:41–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leck MA, Leck CF (1998) A ten-year seed bank study of old field succession in central New Jersey. J Torrey Bot Soc 125:11–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leck MA, Simpson RL (1995) Ten year seed bank and vegetation dynamics of a tidal freshwater marsh. Am J Bot 82:1547–1557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lin LX, Cao M (2009) Edge effects on soil seed banks and understory vegetation in subtropical and tropical forests in Yunnan, SW China. For Ecol Manage 257:1344–1352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Loewenstein NJ, Loewenstein EF (2005) Non-native plants in the understory of riparian forests across a land-use gradient in the Southeast. Urban Ecosyst 8:79–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. MacArthur RH, MacArthur JW (1961) On bird species diversity. Ecology 42:594–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Malmivaara-Lamsa M, Hamberg L, Haapamaki E, Liski J, Kotze DJ, Lehvavirta S, Fritze H (2008) Edge effects and trampling in boreal urban forest fragments—impacts on the soil microbial community. Soil Biol Biochem 40:1612–1621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Martin AC, Barkley WD (1961) Seed identification manual. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  48. McCune B, Grace JB (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, ORGoogle Scholar
  49. McCune B, Mefford MJ (1999) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data. MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, ORGoogle Scholar
  50. McDonald RI, Motzkin G, Foster DR (2008) Assessing the influence of historical factors, contemporary processes, and environmental conditions on the distribution of invasive species. J Torrey Bot Soc 135:260–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Meekins JF, McCarthy BC (2001) Effect of environmental variation on the invasive success of a nonindigenous forest herb. Ecol Appl 11:1336–1348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moffatt SF, McLachlan SM (2003) Effects of land use disturbance on seed banks of riparian forests in southern Manitoba. Ecoscience 10:361–369Google Scholar
  53. Moffatt SF, McLachlan SM, Kenkel NC (2004) Impacts of land use on riparian forest along an urban-rural gradient in southern Manitoba. Plant Ecol 174:119–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Myers JA, Vellend M, Gardescu S, Marks PL (2004) Seed dispersal by white-tailed deer: implications for long-distance dispersal, invasion, and migration of plants in eastern North America. Oecologia 139:35–44CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Nathan R, Muller-Landau HC (2000) Spatial patterns of seed dispersal, their determinants and consequences for recruitment. Trends Ecol Evol 15:278–285CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Oneal AS, Rotenberry JT (2008) Riparian plant composition in an urbanizing landscape in southern California, USA. Landsc Ecol 23:553–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Parendes LA, Jones JA (2000) Role of light availability and dispersal in exotic plant invasion along roads and streams in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon. Conserv Biol 14:64–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pickett STA, McDonnell MJ (1989) Seed bank dynamics in temperate deciduous forest. In: Leck MA, Parker VT, Simpson RL (eds) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, Inc., San Diego, CA, pp 123–148Google Scholar
  59. Pickett STA, Cadenasso ML, Grove JM, Groffman PM, Band LE, Boone CG, Burch WR, Grimmond CSB, Hom J, Jenkins JC, Law NL, Nilon CH, Pouyat RV, Szlavecz K, Warren PS, Wilson MA (2008) Beyond urban legends: an emerging framework of urban ecology, as illustrated by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. Bioscience 58:139–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Planty-Tabacchi AM, Tabacchi E, Naiman RJ, Deferrari C, Decamps H (1996) Invasibility of species-rich communities in riparian zones. Conserv Biol 10:598–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ries L, Robert J, Fletcher J, Battin J, Sisk TD (2004) Ecological responses to habitat edges: mechanisms, models, and variability explained. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 35:491–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Smith MD, Knapp AK (1999) Exotic plant species in a C-4-dominated grassland: invasibility, disturbance, and community structure. Oecologia 120:605–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Theoharides KA, Dukes JS (2007) Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New Phytol 176:256–273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Vidra RL, Shear TH (2008) Thinking locally for urban forest restoration: a simple method links exotic species invasion to local landscape structure. Restor Ecol 16:217–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. von der Lippe M, Kowarik I (2008) Do cities export biodiversity? Traffic as dispersal vector across urban-rural gradients. Divers Distrib 14:18–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wangen SR, Webster CR (2006) Potential for multiple lag phases during biotic invasions: reconstructing an invasion of the exotic tree Acer platanoides. J Appl Ecol 43:258–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Williams SC, Ward JS, Ramakrishnan U (2007) Endozoochory by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) across a suburban/woodland interface. For Ecol Manage 255:940–947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Williams-Linera G (1990) Vegetation structure and environmental conditions of forest edges in Panama. J Ecol 78:356–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Young JA, Young CG (1992) Seeds of woody plants in North America. Dioscorides Press, Portland, ORGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyMercer UniversityMaconUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, SEBSRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations