, Volume 70, Issue 7, pp 869–878 | Cite as

Vulnerability of a riparian zone towards invasion by alien plants depends on its structure

  • Igor ZelnikEmail author
  • Maja Haler
  • Alenka Gaberščik


Riparian zones support high biodiversity and are among the most vulnerable parts of the landscape. Their degradation facilitates the spread of invasive alien plant species. Our aim was to investigate the relationship between environmental characteristics of riparian zones and distribution and abundance of invasive alien plant taxa (IAT) along three rivers in Slovenia. In 100-m reaches of riparian zone we determined environmental characteristics and the presence and abundance of IAT. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to assess the relationship between IAT and environmental factors. The numbers and abundances of IAT in specific reaches were correlated with environmental factors using Spearman coefficient. These results revealed that the number and abundance of IAT in riparian zone were strongly positively correlated to the distance from river source, while they were negatively correlated with altitude, vegetation structure complexity, completeness of riparian zone and current velocity. Environmental factors that explained the distribution and abundance of IAT significantly were: the altitude, flow dynamics, distance from source, width of riparian zone, land-use, bank and channel structure, water depth and velocity. The research has pointed out the need for proper management of riparian zones to prevent invasion by IAT and also to strengthen other services provided by riparian zone as buffering anthropogenic impacts to water body, stabilising bank structure and increasing biodiversity.

Key words

environmental factors invasive alien taxa river riparian zone wetland 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Republic of Slovenia, through the programmes Biology of Plants P1-0212;Young Researchers 33135. The authors thank to Barbara Škrjanec in Sanja Traven for the assistance with field work.


  1. Abrahamson W.G., Dobley K.B., Houseknecht H.R. & Pecone C.A. 2005. Ecological divergence among five co-occurring species of old-field goldenrods. Plant Ecol. 177. 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alpert P., Bone E. & Holzapfel C. 2000. Invasiveness, invisibility and the role of environmental stress in the spread of non-native plants. Perspect. Plant Ecol. Evol. Systemat. 3. 52–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assini S., Bracco F. & Sartori F. 2009. Plant invasion in riparian habitats in Northern Italy, pp. 15–19. In: Celesti-Grapow L., Pretto F., Brundu G., Carli E. & Blasi C. (eds), Plant invasions in Italy. Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea Protection, Rome.Google Scholar
  4. Barling R.D., Moore I.D. 1994. Role of buffer strips in management of waterway pollution: a review. Environ. Manage. 18. 543–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braun-Blanquet J. 1964. Pflanzensoziologie. Grundzüge der Vegetationskunde. Springer, Wien.Google Scholar
  6. Dahm C., Cleverly J., Coonrod J., Thibault J., McDonnell D. & Gilroy D. 2002. Evapotranspiration at the land/water interface in a semi-arid drainage basin. Freshw. Biol. 47. 831–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. D’Antonio C.M. & Vitousek P.M. 1992. Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle, and global change. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Systemat. 23. 63–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dassonville N., Vanderhoeven S., Gruber W. & Meerts P. 2007. Invasion by Fallopia japonica increases topsoil mineral nutrient concentration. Ecoscience 14: 230–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ellenberg H. 1988. Vegetation ecology of Central Europe. Cambridge University press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  10. ¨Essl F. & Rabitsch W. 2002. Neobiota in Osterreich. Umwelt-bundesamt. (German), Wien. EU. 2014. Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the council of October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species. Official Journal of the European Union L 317/35. Brussels.Google Scholar
  11. Gaberščik A. 1996. Boundaries of river ecosystem. Mišič’s water-management day. Maribor: Institute for water-management. (In Slovenian)Google Scholar
  12. Gerber E., Krebs C., Murrella C., Moretti M., Rocklin R. & Schaffner U. 2008. Exotic invasive knotweeds (Fallopia spp.) negatively affect native plant and invertebrate assemblages in European riparian habitats. Biol. Conserv. 141. 646–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Germ M., Urbanc-Berčič O., Janauer G.A., Filzmoser P., Exler N. & Gaberščik A. 2008. Macrophyte distribution pattern in the Krka River–the role of habitat quality. Fundament. Appl. Limnol. 162: 145–155.Google Scholar
  14. Grime J.P. 1979. Plant strategies and vegetation processes. Wiley, Chichester.Google Scholar
  15. Hejda M. & Pyšek P. 2006. What is the impact of Impatiens glan-dulifera on species diversity of invaded riparian vegetation? Biol. Conserv. 132. 143–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hobbs R.J. & Humphries S.E. 1995. An integrated approach to the ecology and management of plant invasions. Conserv. Biol. 9. 761–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hood G.W. & Naiman R.J. 2000. Vulnerability of riparian zones to invasion by exotic vascular plants. Plant Ecol. 148. 105–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hulme P.E. & Bremner E.T. 2006. Assessing the impact of Impatiens glandulifera on riparian habitats: partitioning diversity components following species removal. J. Appl. Ecol. 43. 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Inoue M., Nishimura H., Li H. & Mizutani J. 1992. Allelochemi-cals from Polygonum sachalinense Fr. Schm. (Polygonaceae). J. Chem. Ecol. 18. 1833–1840.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jogan N. 2007. Report on the status of endangered plant species, invasive species and species richness, with commentary. Ljubljana: Agency for Environment of the Republic of Slovenia.]20vrste/ogroai]c5beeneai]20inai]20zavarovane/ogrozene rastlinske vrste.pdfGoogle Scholar
  21. Jogan N., Bačič T., Frajman B., Leskovar I., Naglič D., Podobnik A., Rozman B., Strgulc-Krajšek S. & Trčak B. 2001. Materials for the Atlas of Slovenian flora. Centre for Cartography of fauna and flora, Miklavž na Dravskem polju.Google Scholar
  22. Kappes H., Lay R. & Topp W. 2007. Changes in different trophic levels of litter-dwelling macrofauna associated with giant knotweed invasion. Ecosystems 10: 734–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klinger R., Underwood E.C. & Moore P.E. 2006. The role of environmental gradients in non-native plant invasion into burnt areas of Yosemite National Park, California. Divers. Distrib. 12. 139–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Klotz S. 2007. Echinocystis lobata. DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe). lobata.pdf (january 15, 2013)Google Scholar
  25. Körner C. 2007. The use of ‘altitude’ in ecological research. Trends Ecol. Evol. 22. 569–574.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kolbezen M. & Pristov J. 1998. Surface streams and water balance of Slovenia. Ministry for environment: Institute of hydro-meteorology of republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana.Google Scholar
  27. Kuhar U., Gregorc T., Renčelj M., Šraj-Kržič N. & Gaberščik A. 2007. Distribution of macrophytes and condition of the physical environment of streams flowing through agricultural landscape in north-eastern Slovenia. Limnologica 37: 146–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kuhar U., Germ M., Gaberščik A. & Urbanič G. 2011. Development of a River Macrophyte Index (RMI) for assessing river ecological status. Limnologica 41: 235–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lake J.C. & Leishman M.R. 2004. Invasion success of exotic plants in natural ecosystems: the role of disturbance, plant attributes and freedom from herbivores. Biol. Conserv. 2. 215–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lodge D.M. 1993. Biological invasions: lessons for ecology. Trends Ecol. Evol. 8. 133–137.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Loo S.E., Mac Nally R., O’dowd D.J. & Lake P.S. 2009. Secondary Invasion Implications of Riparian Restoration for In-Stream Invasion by an Aquatic Grass. Restor. Ecol. 17. 378–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lovett S. & Price P. 1999. Riparian land management Technical guidelines, Volume I. Principles of Sound Management. LWRRDC, Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  33. Lyon J. & Gross N.M. 2005. Patterns of plant diversity and plant-environment relationships across three riparian corridors. Forest Ecol. Manage. 204. 267–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. MacDougall A.S. & Turkington R. 2005. Are invasive species the drivers or passengers of change in degraded ecosystems. Ecology 86: 42–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mack R.N., Simberloff D., Lonsdale W.M., Evans H., Clout M. & Bazzaz F.A. 2000. Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecol. Applic. 10. 689–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Malanson G.P. 1993. Riparian landscapes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McIntyre S., Lavorel S. & Tremont R.M. 1995. Plant life history attributes: their relationships to disturbance response in herbaceous vegetation. J. Ecol. 83. 31–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Meyer J.L., Sale M.J., Mulholland P.J. & Poff N.L. 1999. Impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystem functioning and health. J. Am. Water Resour. Assoc. 35. 1373–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Müller N. & Okuda S. 1998. Invasion of alien plants in flood-plains -a comparison of Europe and Japan. Plant Invasions: Ecological Mechanisms and Human Responses, pp. 321–332.Google Scholar
  40. Naiman R.J. & Décamps H. 1997. The ecology of interfaces: Riparian zones. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Systemat. 28. 621–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Naiman R.J., Décamps H. & McClain Michael E. 2005. Riparia: ecology, conservation, and management of streamside communities. Elsevier, London.Google Scholar
  42. Nakamura F., Swanson F.J. & Wondzell S.M. 2000. Disturbance regimes of stream and riparian systems -a disturbance-cascade perspective. Hydrol. Process. 14. 2849–2860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nilsson C., Brown R.L., Jansson R. & Merritt D.M. 2010. The role of hydrochory in structuring riparian and wetland vegetation. Biol. Rev. 85: 837–858.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Petersen R.C. 1992. The RCE: a riparian, Channel and environmental inventory for small streams in agricultural landscape. Freshw. Biol. 27. 25–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pollock M.M., Naiman R.J. & Hanley T.A. 1998. Plant species richness in riparian wetlands: a test of biodiversity theory. Ecology 79: 94–105.Google Scholar
  46. Prach K., Lencová K., Řehounková K., Dvořáková H., Jírová A., Konvalinková P., Mudrák O., Novák J. & Trnková R. 2013. Spontaneous vegetation succession at different central European mining sites: a comparison across seres. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. 20. 7680–7685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pyšek P., Brock J.H., Bímová K., Mandák B., Jarosík V., Koukolíková I., Pergl J. & Stepánek J. 2003. Vegetative regeneration in invasive Reynoutria (Polygonaceae) taxa: The determinant of invisibility at the genotype level. Am. J. Botany 90: 1487–1495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pyšek P., Chytrý M., Pergl J., Sádlo J. & Wild J. 2012. Plant invasions in the Czech Republic: current state, introduction dynamics, invasive species and invaded habitats. Preslia 84: 575–629.Google Scholar
  49. Pyšek P., Lambdon P.W., Arianoutsou M., Kühn I., Pino I. & Winter M. 2009. Handbook of Alien Species in Europe Invading Nature. Springer Series in Invasion Ecology 3: 43–61.Google Scholar
  50. Řehounková K. & Prach K. 2008. Spontaneous vegetation succession in gravel-sand pits: a potential for restoration. Restor. Ecol. 16. 305–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Richardson D.M., Holmes P.M., Esler K.J., Galatowitsch S.M., Stromberg J.C., Kirkman S.P., Pyšek P. & Hobbs R.J. 2007. Riparian vegetation: degradation, alien plant invasions, and restoration prospects. Divers. Distrib. 13. 126–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schnitzler A., Hale B.W. & Alsum E. 2007. Examining native and exotic species diversity in European riparian forests. Biol. Conserv. 138. 146–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scott R.L., Shuttleworth W.J., Goodrich D.C. & Maddock T. 2000. The water use of two dominant vegetation communities in a semiarid riparian ecosystem. Agricult. Forest Meteorol. 105. 241–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Siemens T.J. & Blossey B. 2007. An evaluation of mechanisms preventing growth and survival of two native species in invasive Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia × bohemica, Polygonaceae). Am. J. Botany 94: 776–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Simberloff D. 1995. Why do introduced Species appear to devastate Islands more than Mainland Areas? Pacific Sci. 49. 87–97.Google Scholar
  56. Stohlgren T.J., Bull K.J., Otsuki Y., Villa, C.A. & Lee M. 1998. Riparian zones as havens for exotic plant species in the central grasslands. Plant Ecol. 138. 113–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sukopp H. & Wurzel A. 2000. Changing climate and the effects on vegetation in central European cities. Arboricult. J. 24. 257–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Šraj-Kržič N., Germ M., Urbanc-Berčič O., Kuhar U., Janauer G.A. & Gaberščik A. 2007. The quality of the aquatic environment and macrophytes of karstic watercourses. Plant Ecol. 192. 107–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ter Braak C.J.F. & Šmilauer P. 2002. CANOCO reference manual and CanoDraw for Windows user’ s guide. Software for Canonical Community Ordination (version 4.5). Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  60. Tickner D.P., Angold P.G., Gurnell A.M. & Mountford J.O. 2001. Riparian plant invasions: hydrogeomorphological control and ecological impacts. Progress Phys. Geogr. 25. 22–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tiébré M.S., Saad L. & Mahy G. 2008. Landscape dynamics and habitat selection by the alien invasive Fallopia (Polygonaceae) in Belgium. Biodivers. Conserv. 17. 2357–2370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Urgenson L.S., Reichard S.H. & Charles B. 2009. Halpern Community and ecosystem consequences of giant knotweed (Polygonum sachalinense) invasion into riparian forests of western Washington, USA. Biol. Conserv. 142. 1536–1541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vilà M., Espinar J.L., Hejda M., Hulme P.E., Jarošík V., Maron J.L., Pergl J., Schaffner U., Sun Y. & Pyšek P. 2011. Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems. Ecol. Lett. 14. 702–708.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ward J.V. 1998. Riverine landscapes: Biodiversity patterns, disturbance regimes and aquatic conservation. Biol. Conserv. 83. 269–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Ward J.V. & Stanford J.A. 2006. Ecological connectivity in alluvial river ecosystems and its disruption by flow regulation. Regulated Rivers: Res. Manage. 11. 105–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ward J.V., Tockner K., Arscott D.B. & Claret C. 2002. Riverine landscape diversity. Freshw. Biol. 47. 517–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wyse D.L., Young F.L. & Jones R.J. 1986. Influence of Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) density and duration of interference on Soybean (Glycine max) growth and yield. Weed Sci. 34. 243–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zelnik I. 2012. The presence of invasive alien plant species in different habitats: case study from Slovenia. Acta Biol. Slovenica 55: 25–38.Google Scholar
  69. Žiger Z. & Bognar A. 2007. Geographic characteristics of the upper part of the river Sotla. Acta Geograph. Croat. 69. 25–39. (In Croatian)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Slovak Academy of Sciences 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biotechnical Faculty, Department of BiologyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations