Population structure and growth of a non-native invasive clonal plant on coastal dunes in Southern Brazil.
Furcraea foetida (L.) Haw. (Asparagaceae) is a non-native invasive plant in Brazilian coastal ecosystems. This study focused on characterizing its population structure in coastal dune vegetation in southern Brazil. We also assessed which community structure characteristics were associated with its invasion and verified whether its growth negatively affected richness, diversity, and cover of local plant communities. We registered 67 individuals of F. foetida, most of them large and potentially reproductive. The species was positively associated with greater cover and height of native plant species which seems to promote the establishment of F. foetida by reducing extreme temperatures at the ground level. Overall, F. foetida plants growth did not result in changes in cover, richness or diversity of the studied plant communities. However, changes in cover of dominant native species might be a consequence of growth of F. foetida plants. These changes could result in changes in the structure of local plant communities which must be assessed in long-term studies. From a preventive perspective, immediate control actions, public awareness campaigns and legal regulations are essential to minimize F. foetida impacts to local biodiversity.