Increasing seriousness of plant invasions in croplands of eastern China in relation to changing farming practices: a case study.
Arable areas are commonly susceptible to alien plant invasion because they experience dramatic environmental influences and intense anthropogenic activity. However, the limited reports on relevant factors in plant invasion of croplands have addressed single or a few invasive species and environmental factors. To elucidate key factors affecting plant invasions in croplands, we analyzed the relationship between 11 effective factors and changes in composition of alien plants, using field surveys of crop fields in Anhui Province conducted during 1987-1990 (historical dataset) and 2005-2010 (recent dataset), when rapid urbanization was occurring in China. We found that in the past few decades, the dominance and richness of alien plant populations approximately doubled, despite differences among the 4 regions of Anhui Province. Among the 38 alien invasive plant species observed in the sites, the dominance values of 11 species increased significantly, while the dominance of 4 species decreased significantly. The quantity of chemical fertilizer and herbicide applied, population density, agricultural machinery use, traffic frequency, and annual mean temperature were significantly related to increased richness and annual dominance values of alien plant species. Our findings suggest that the increase in alien plant invasions during the past few decades is primarily a result of increased application of chemical fertilizer and herbicides.