Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1453–1469 | Cite as

Functional and taxonomic perspectives for understanding the underlying mechanisms of native and alien plant distributions

  • Tokiyo OkimuraEmail author
  • Akira S. MoriEmail author
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Invasive species


Land-use changes often facilitate alien species invasion, impacting on biodiversity and ecosystem processes at the regional scale. Transport infrastructure is a potential corridor for biological invasion, but processes underlying invasion of alien species from human settlements along transport networks are uncertain. We surveyed alien and native plant species and their functional traits in roadside vegetation in Shiretoko National Park, Japan. The site is unique because there is a single invasion source (i.e., town). Vegetation, environmental and spatial factors were measured in 362 quadrats on two transects established along roads. Mean species richness within each quadrat (taxonomic α-diversity) was higher for alien assemblages, whereas mean functional richness (functional α-diversity) was higher for native assemblages. Alien species shared similar traits as generalists, which show lower functional diversity than specialists. Functional α-diversity of alien assemblages decreased with increasing distance from the source town, and the nestedness-resultant component of functional β-diversity of alien assemblages accounted for a relatively high proportion of their total functional β-diversity. Alien species with high dispersal ability were widely distributed, whereas other alien species were still limited to areas adjacent to the human settlement. Alien species showed a greater probability of having seed floss, lower percentage of perennial species, and lower seed dry mass than native species. Thus, alien species showed superior dispersal and competitive abilities compared with native species, and exclusion of all alien species is likely impractical. Consideration of functional traits may aid selection of alien species of particular concern for implementation of control and extermination measures.


Beta diversity Functional trait Dispersal ability Transport infrastructure 



This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (Grant No. 25712015) awarded to ASM. Logistical support for the field study was provided by the Shiretoko Foundation. We thank D. Koide, K. Nishizawa, S. Tatsumi, R. Kitagawa, Y. Takagi, M. Kasahara, S. Fujii, T. Ohgue, M. Maeda, and S. Qian for their assistance in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1503_MOESM1_ESM.docx (53 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 53 kb)


  1. Alston KP, Richardson DM (2006) The roles of habitat features, disturbance, and distance from putative source populations in structuring alien plant invasions at the urban/wildland interface on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Biol Conserv 132:183–198. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antonio CMD, Vitousek PM (1992) Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle, and global change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:63–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arévalo JR, Delgado JD, Otto R et al (2005) Distribution of alien vs. native plant species in roadside communities along an altitudinal gradient in Tenerife and Gran Canaria (Canary Islands). Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 7:185–202. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Augspurger CK, Hogan KP (1983) Wind dispersal of fruits with variable seed number in a tropical tree (Lonchocarpus pentaphyllus: Leguminosae). Am J Bot 70:1031–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baselga A (2010) Partitioning the turnover and nestedness components of beta diversity. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 19:134–143. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baselga A (2012) The relationship between species replacement, dissimilarity derived from nestedness, and nestedness. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 21(12):1223–1232. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baselga A, Lobo JM, Svenning J-C et al (2012) Dispersal ability modulates the strength of the latitudinal richness gradient in European beetles. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 21:1106–1113. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bray JR, Curtis JT (1957) An ordination of the upland forest communities of southern Wisconsin. Ecol Monogr 27:325–349. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brooks ML, Antonio CMD, Richardson DM et al (2004) Effects of invasive alien plants on fire regimes. Bioscience 54:677–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Byun C, de Blois S, Brisson J (2013) Plant functional group identity and diversity determine biotic resistance to invasion by an exotic grass. J Ecol 101:128–139. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christen DC, Matlack GR (2009) The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biol Invasions 11:453–465. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clavel J, Julliard R, Devictor V (2011) Worldwide decline of specialist species: toward a global functional homogenization? Front Ecol Environ 9:222–228. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clough Y, Holzschuh A, Gabriel D et al (2007) Alpha and beta diversity of arthropods and plants in organically and conventionally managed wheat fields. J Appl Ecol 44:804–812. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cornwell WK, Schwilk DW, Ackerly DD (2006) A trait-based test for habitat filtering: convex hull volume stable. Ecology 87:1465–1471CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Czech B, Krausman PR, Devers PK (2000) Economic associations among causes of species endangerment in the United States. Bioscience 50:593.[0593:EAACOS]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  16. Degasperis BG, Motzkin G (2016) Windows of opportunity: historical and ecological controls on Berberis thunbergii invasions. Ecology 88:3115–3125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dukes JS, Mooney HA (1999) Does global change increase the success of biological invaders? Trends Ecol Evol 14:135–139. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Ehrenfeld JG (2003) Effects of exotic plant invasions on soil nutrient cycling processes. Ecosystems 6:503–523. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fallon C, Borders B, Lee-mäder E, Black SH (2015) Milkweeds and monarchs in the Western US. A Xerces Society GuideGoogle Scholar
  20. Fargione J, Brown CS, Tilman D (2003) Community assembly and invasion: an experimental test of neutral versus niche processes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:8916–8920CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Findlay CS, Bourdages J (2000) Response time of wetland biodiversity to road construction on adjacent lands. Conserv Biol 14:86–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Forman RTT, Alexander LE (1998) Roads and their major ecological effects. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 29:207–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Funk JL, Cleland EE, Suding KN, Zavaleta ES (2008) Restoration through reassembly: plant traits and invasion resistance. Trends Ecol Evol 23:695–703. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Gaertner M, Den Breeyen A, Hui C, Richardson DM (2009) Impacts of alien plant invasions on species richness in Mediterranean-type ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Prog Phys Geogr 33:319–338. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gallien L, Münkemüller T, Albert CH et al (2010) Predicting potential distributions of invasive species: where to go from here? Divers Distrib 16:331–342. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gower JC (1971) A general coefficient of similarity and some of its properties. Biometric 27:857–871CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grotkopp E, Rejmánek M, Rost TL (2002) Toward a causal explanation of plant invasiveness: seedling growth and life-history strategies of 29 pine (Pinus) species. Am Nat 159:2002Google Scholar
  28. Heady HF (1977) Valley grassland. In: Barbour MG, Major J (eds) Terrestrial vegetation of California. Wiley, New York, pp 491–514Google Scholar
  29. Hutchinson GE (1959) Homage to Santa Rosalia or why are there so many kinds of animals? Am Midl Nat 93:145–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ibisch PL, Hoffmann MT, Kreft S et al (2016) A global map of roadless areas and their conservation status. Science 80(354):1423–1427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ibrahim AH, Al-Zahrani AA, Wahba HH (2016) The effect of natural and artificial fruit dehiscence on floss properties, seed germination and protein expression in Calotropis procera. Acta Physiol Plant 38:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnston FM, Pickering CM (2001) Alien plants in the Australian alps. Mt Res Dev 21:284–291.[0284:APITAA]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  33. Kattge J, Diaz S, Lavorel S et al (2011) TRY—a global database of plant traits. Glob Chang Biol 17:2905–2935. CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Keddy PA (1992) Assembly and response rules: two goals for predictive community ecology. J Veg Sci 3:157–164. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kilpatrick AM (2011) Globalization, land use, and the invasion of west nile virus. Science 80(334):323–327. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Knapp S, Kühn I, Schweiger O, Klotz S (2008) Challenging urban species diversity: contrasting phylogenetic patterns across plant functional groups in Germany. Ecol Lett 11(10):1054–1064CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Laughlin DC (2014) Applying trait-based models to achieve functional targets for theory-driven ecological restoration. Ecol Lett 17:771–784. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Liao C, Peng R, Luo Y et al (2008) Altered ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycles by plant invasion: a meta-analysis. New Phytol 177:706–714. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Lloret F, Médail F, Brundu G, Hulme PE (2004) Local and regional abundance of exotic plant species on Mediterranean islands: are species traits important ? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 13:37–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lowe S, Browne M, Boudjelas S, De Poorter M (2000) 100 of the world’ s worst invasive alien species. Invasive Species Specialist Group, AucklandGoogle Scholar
  41. Marini L, Prosser F (2013) Beta-diversity patterns elucidate mechanisms of alien plant invasion in mountains. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 22:450–460. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McDowell S (2002) Photosynthetic characteristics of invasive and noninvasive species of Rubus (Rosaceae). Am J Bot 89:1431–1438. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. McKinney ML (2002) Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation. Bioscience 52:883–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McKinney ML, Lockwood JL (1999) Biotic homogenization: a few winners replacing many losers in the next mass extinction. Trends Ecol Evol 14:450–453. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Mori AS, Ota AT, Fujii S, Seino T (2015) Biotic homogenization and differentiation of soil faunal communities in the production forest landscape: taxonomic and functional perspectives. Oecologia 177:533–544. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Morlon H, Chuyong G, Condit R et al (2008) A general framework for the distance-decay of similarity in ecological communities. Ecol Lett 11:904–917. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Morse DH, Schmitt J (1985) Propagule size, dispersal ability, and seedling performance in Asclepias syriaca. Oecologia 67:372–379CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Muller B, Garnier E (1990) Components of relative growth rate and sensitivity to nitrogen availability in annual and perennial species of Bromus. Oecologia 84:513–518CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Naeem S, Knops JM, Tilman D et al (2000) Plant diversity increases resistance to invasion in the absence of covarying extrinsic factors. Oikos 91:97–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nekola JC, White PS (1999) The distance decay of similarity in biogeography and ecology. J Biogeogr 26:867–878. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Okimura T, Koide D, Mori AS (2016) distributions of native and alien plant assemblages. Biodivers Conserv 25:995–1009. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Olden JD (2006) Biotic homogenization: a new research agenda for conservation biogeography. J Biogeogr 33:2027–2039. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Olden JD, Poff NL, Douglas MR et al (2004) Ecological and evolutionary consequences of biotic homogenization. Trends Ecol Evol 19:18–24. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Paiaro V, Cabido M, Pucheta E (2011) Altitudinal distribution of native and alien plant species in roadside communities from central Argentina. Austral Ecol 36:176–184. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pakeman RJ (2011) Functional diversity indices reveal the impacts of land use intensification on plant community assembly. J Ecol 99:1143–1151. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pauchard A, Alaback PB (2004) Influence of elevation, land use, and landscape context on patterns of alien plant invasions along roadsides in protected areas of South-Central Chile. Conserv Biol 18:238–248. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pavoine S, Bonsall MB (2011) Measuring biodiversity to explain community assembly: a unified approach. Biol Rev 86:792–812. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Perez-Harguindeguy N, Diaz S, Garnier E et al (2013) New handbook for standardised measurement of plant functional traits worldwide. Aust J Bot 61:167–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Purschke O, Schmid BC, Sykes MT et al (2013) Contrasting changes in taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity during a long-term succession: insights into assembly processes. J Ecol 101:857–866. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pyšek P, Pyšek A (1995) Invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum in different habitats in the Czech Republic. J Veg Sci 6:711–718. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pyšek P, Jarošík V, Hulme PE et al (2012) A global assessment of invasive plant impacts on resident species, communities and ecosystems: the interaction of impact measures, invading species’ traits and environment. Glob Change Biol 18:1725–1737. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Qian H (2009) Beta diversity in relation to dispersal ability for vascular plants in North America. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 18:327–332. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rao CR (1982) Diversity and dissimilarity coefficients: a unified approach. Theor Popul Biol 21:24–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Scurfield G (1963) The effects of temperature on the early vegetative growth of Phalaris canariensis L. and P. tuberosa L. Crop Pasture Sci 14:165–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Selva N, Kreft S, Kati V, Jonsson MSB (2011) Roadless and low-traffic areas as conservation targets in Europe. Environ Manage 48:865–877. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  66. Shiretoko World Natural Heritage Site Scientific Council (2013) A working report for the Ezo sika deer management. Accessed 6 Sept 2015
  67. Sullivan JJ, Timmins SM, Williams PA (2005) Movement of exotic plants into coastal native forests from gardens in northern New Zealand. N Z J Ecol 29:1–10Google Scholar
  68. Tecco PA, Díaz S, Cabido M, Urcelay C (2010) Functional traits of alien plants across contrasting climatic and land-use regimes: do aliens join the locals or try harder than them? J Ecol 98:17–27. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. The Forest Agency of Japan (2013) A Shiretoko white paper: annaul management report for Shiretoko World Natural Heritage Site. Accessed 6 Sept 2015
  70. The Forest Agency of Japan (2014) A Shiretoko white paper: annaul management report for Shiretoko World Natural Heritage Site.
  71. Tobler WR (1970) A computer movie simulating urban growth in the detroit region. Econ Geogr 46:234–240. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Trentanovi G, Von Der Lippe M, Sitzia T et al (2013) Biotic homogenization at the community scale: disentangling the roles of urbanization and plant invasion. Divers Distrib 19:738–748. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Tyser RW, Worley CA (1992) Alien flora in grasslands adjacent to road and trail corridors in Glacier National Park, Montana (USA). Conserv Biol 6:253–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Van Kleunen M, Weber E, Fischer M (2010) A meta analysis of trait differences between invasive and non invasive plant species. Ecol Lett 13:235–245. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Vilà M, Tessier M, Suehs CM et al (2006) Local and regional assessments of the impacts of plant invaders on vegetation structure and soil properties of Mediterranean islands. J Biogeogr 33:853–861. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Villéger S, Philip MN, Mouillot D (2011) The multidimensionality of the niche reveals functional diversity changes in benthic marine biotas across geological time. Ecol Lett 14:561–568. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Villéger S, Grenouillet G, Brosse S (2013) Decomposing functional β-diversity reveals that low functional β-diversity is driven by low functional turnover in European fish assemblages. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 22:671–681. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Violle C, Navas M, Vile D et al (2007) Let the concept of trait be functional! Oikos 116:882–892. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vitousek PM (1990) Biological invasions and ecosystem processes: towards an integration of population biology and ecosystem studies. Oikos 57:7–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Vitousek PM, D’antonio CM, Loope LL et al (1997) Introduced species: a significant component of human-caused global change. N Z J Ecol 12:1–16Google Scholar
  81. Von Der Lippe M, Kowarik I (2007) Long-distance dispersal of plants by vehicles as a driver of plant invasions. Conserv Biol 21:986–996. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  82. Williamson J, Harrison S (2002) Biotic and abiotic limits to the spread of exotic revegetation species. Ecol Appl 12:40–51.[0040:BAALTT]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  83. Wilson JRU, Dormontt EE, Prentis PJ et al (2009) Something in the way you move: dispersal pathways affect invasion success something in the way you move: dispersal pathways affect invasion success. Trends Ecol Evol 24:136–144. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environment and Information SciencesYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan

Personalised recommendations