Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1363–1373 | Cite as

Propagule pressure and environmental conditions interact to determine establishment success of an invasive plant species, glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), across five different wetland habitat types

  • Jason A. Berg
  • Gretchen A. Meyer
  • Erica B. Young
Original Paper


Many invasive plant species are able to establish within a wide range of community types. This establishment success depends on high propagule pressure and successful recruitment of seedlings following propagule dispersal into receptive environments. This study aimed to investigate interactions between propagule pressure and environmental resistance to seedling recruitment of the invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus Mill.), over a range of wetland habitat types. We measured propagule deposition using seed traps and recruitment success using sown plots, while characterizing vegetation and abiotic environmental conditions in five adjacent wetland habitat types. Drier habitats, which included Cedar Swamp, Shrub Carr, and String, had lower resistance to buckthorn establishment than the wetter Flark and Cattail Marsh. The drier habitats supported more woody species and provided more raised hummock surfaces essential for successful buckthorn recruitment and establishment. Propagule pressure was also higher in dry habitats that supported higher densities of adult glossy buckthorn, while long-distance dispersal into areas with low adult density was uncommon. Natural recruitment was highest in sites with intense propagule pressure, but experimental sowing of seeds demonstrated that buckthorn establishes in wet sites with higher resistance if propagule pressure is increased and seeds are deposited on hummocks. This study demonstrates the affinity of glossy buckthorn for drier wetland sites, and provides empirical evidence that environmental resistance can be overcome by higher propagule pressure.


Frangula alnus Invasive species Environmental resistance Propagule pressure Recruitment success Wetland habitat 



For assistance with field and laboratory work, we thank John Berges, Philip Lee, Nick Niederhoffer, Jessica Sielicki, and Megan Helt-Baldwin. Invaluable advice on Cedarburg Bog fieldwork was provided by James Reinartz. This research was supported by the UWM Field Station, a Research Growth Initiative award and student support from the UWM Department of Biological Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason A. Berg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gretchen A. Meyer
    • 3
  • Erica B. Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Field StationUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeSaukvilleUSA

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