Not one but three: undetected invasive Alnus species in northwestern Patagonia confirmed with cpDNA and ITS sequences.
Species of Alnus (alders) have become invaders in several parts of the world. Here we report the presence of three naturalized alien species: A. glutinosa, A. incana and A. rubra from several populations in nature reserves of northwestern Patagonia, an area of remarkably high biodiversity. Alnus glutinosa had been cited previously for Chile and southern Argentina, but A. incana and A. rubra are here reported for the first time. As we found morphological variation within and among the populations of these introduced species that makes their discrimination difficult, we used chloroplast (trnH-psbA) and nuclear ribosomal (ITS) DNA sequences to confirm their identifications from morphological characteristics. Results from nuclear and chloroplast sequence data confirm the morphological tentative identification of the three species and remark the utility of molecular information together with morphology for the detection of introduced species of taxonomically difficult groups. The invasive characteristics of these alien tree species are discussed in relation to the conservation of the nature reserves where they are found.