Rubbish dumps as invasive plant epicentres

Abstract

It is widely known that disturbed areas favour plant species invasion. However, the presence and impacts of introduced plants at rubbish dumps and landfills are less clear. We conducted a literature review to evaluate current knowledge on introduced plants species at these sites to assess their potential role as invasion epicentres. Most of the studies we found (91%) were observational and only described plant species presence in multiple landscapes, including rubbish dumps or landfills. A minority of studies (< 20%) specifically focused on plant species at these sites but did not evaluate their potential as invasion epicentres. The 215 introduced plant species belonging to 57 families recorded at rubbish dumps or landfills underestimates true numbers given that most studies do not report the full list of species. Most species are invasive (> 95%) and included in the Global Invasive Species Database or the DAISIE list. One species, Arundo donax, is among the 100 worst invasive species in the world and eight more are listed among the 100 worst invasive species in Europe. Invasive species present at these sites may alter fire regimens, produce toxic and allergen effects, outcompete native species, act as agricultural pests, and lead to economic losses. Our results are a first step to include rubbish dumps and landfills in the agenda of ecologists and managers that study invasive species, especially since compost from these sites are now being used in agricultural practices, thus possibly spreading invasive species propagules to distant locations.

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Acknowledgements

We thank CONICET PIP00758 for financial support. Two anonymous reviewers, Laura Meyerson, Sarah Young and Fernando Ballejo helped us improve a previous version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Pablo I. Plaza.

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Plaza, P.I., Speziale, K.L. & Lambertucci, S.A. Rubbish dumps as invasive plant epicentres. Biol Invasions 20, 2277–2283 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1708-1

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Keywords

  • Alien species
  • Introduced plants
  • Exotic species
  • Invasion centres
  • Landfills
  • Rubbish dumps