Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Telling a different story: a global assessment of bryophyte invasions.

Abstract

We assess and review spatio-temporal patterns, habitat affiliations, pathways, impacts, and management experience of bryophyte invasions in extra-tropical countries and regions (n=82) from five continents and maritime islands spanning both hemispheres. Distribution data were extracted and critically checked from a wide range of sources and supplemented with data on biology and introduction history. We identified 139 bryophytes species which we consider to be alien in at least one of our study regions (106 mosses, 28 hepatics and 5 hornworts). Numbers of average alien bryophyte species are significantly higher on islands than in continental regions of similar size, and peak on maritime islands. Cumulative numbers of first records have grown slowly until 1950 and have strongly increased since then. Accidental import as hitch-hiker (34 species) or with ornamental plants (27 species) constitute the most important introduction pathways. We found a remarkably high contribution from distant donor regions to alien bryophyte floras, especially from the complementary hemisphere. Most alien bryophytes prefer strongly modified habitats (e.g. ruderal vegetation, roadsides, lawns), and only few natural ecosystems (forests, rocks) are regularly invaded. Evidence for an ecological impact of bryophyte invasions is scarce and competitive replacement of native moss species, or vascular plant seedlings, by alien bryophytes has only been documented in a few cases. We conclude that bryophytes differ profoundly in many respects from vascular plants, and so do their invasion patterns at large scale. Our global bryophyte invasion state assessment provides the basis for future, more explicit considerations of this largely neglected taxonomic group in invasion ecology, a step we suggest to be urgently needed as studying them might provide novel insights into patterns and processes of plant invasions in general.