Do railways contribute to plant invasion in Turkey?
Intensive trade, transport and travel activities across different geographic regions are prime source of introduction and spread of alien plant species. The role of roadsides in the long distance transport and spread of alien plants has been well explored whereas, railways are less considered in this context. Therefore, current survey was aimed to determine the role of railways as dispersal corridors for alien plants and weeds along the railways connecting Black Sea and Inner Anatolia regions of Turkey. Surveys were accomplished by randomly stopping at every 8-10 km on the railway tracks. Fifty-eight different plant species belonging to 22 plant families were identified during the study. Majority of the identified plant species (68.9%) were native to Turkey whereas, notable numbers of alien plants which have been established in the country (17.2%) were also recorded during the survey. Moreover, 62% of the identified native plants have been regarded as invasive in number of European countries. Weed Science Society of America have listed 72.4% of the identified plants as weeds and 79.3% are accepted as alien/invasive in different European countries. Maximum number of weeds belonged to Asteraceae family among the 22 identified families. Current surveys present the first report on the presence of common ragweed along railways in Turkey. The results indicate that railways are extensively serving as corridors for introduction and dispersal of weedy and alien plants across the regions in the country. It is therefore recommended that rapid surveys should be urgently conducted along the railways network of the country to record the presence of invasive alien plants.