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The role of bioclimatic features, landscape configuration and historical land use in the invasion of an Asian tree in subtropical Argentina

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Knowing which factors determine the spread of plant invaders is a relevant issue in global ecology. Cultural landscapes both influence and are affected by exotic species. Although bioclimatic boundaries, seed sources and landscape configuration all control the invasion process, they have been mostly studied separately and independently from their distant drivers.


We followed a multiscale approach to describe the invasion dynamics of the Asian tree (Ligustrum lucidum) in subtropical NW Argentina cultural landscapes by: (1) identifying the potential bioclimatic area of invasion, (2) mapping the currently invaded area in peri-urban focal sectors, and (3) quantitatively describing the landscape-scale patterns of invasion in relation to environmental and cultural variables.


Niche models were used to map potential invasion area, remote sensing, GIS and field surveys to map patterns of invasion and their association to landscape and environmental variables.


Climate suitability to L. lucidum extends over important ranges of the studied area, but currently invaded areas are mostly restricted to clusters around the main cities. The historical and demographic features of cities (e.g., date foundation, population) are important in predicting invaded forest location and spread. At local scale, invasion is associated to abandoned fields nearby urban centers, roads and rivers.


The invasion patterns of L. lucidum reflect the combined effect of historical socioeconomic connections between Asia and America, as well as the local cultural landscape history and configuration. Teleconnected cultural landscapes need to be explored as a theoretical framework for the study of biological invasions in the Anthropocene.

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This study was supported by Argentinian National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) and by Rufford Small Grant. We thank N. Diaz and MJ Orofino for the permanent help with English, our colleagues from IER who helped us in fieldwork and from Nanjing Forestry University (China) who facilitated us information about L. lucidum in native range and to Dr. T Kuemmerle and the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.

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Correspondence to Lia Montti.

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Montti, L., Carrillo, V.P., Gutiérrez-Angonese, J. et al. The role of bioclimatic features, landscape configuration and historical land use in the invasion of an Asian tree in subtropical Argentina. Landscape Ecol 32, 2167–2185 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-017-0563-2

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  • Invasive species
  • Ligustrum lucidum
  • Species distribution
  • Telecoupled cultural landscapes