Divergent effects of land-use, propagule pressure, and climate on woody riparian invasion.
Landscape-scale analyses of biological invasion are needed to understand the relative importance of environmental drivers that vary at larger scales, such as climate, propagule pressure, resource availability, and human disturbance. One poorly understood landscape-scale question is, how does human land-use influence riparian plant invasion? To evaluate the relative importance of land-use, climate, propagule pressure, and water availability in riparian invasion, we examined tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima, T. chinensis, hybrids), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), and Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) occurrence, abundance, and dominance in 238 riparian sites in developed, cultivated, and undeveloped areas of four western USA river basins (281,946 km2). Temperature and propagule pressure from individuals planted nearby largely drove invasive species occurrence, whereas factors likely to affect resource availability (e.g., land-use, precipitation, streamflow intermittency) were more important to abundance and dominance, supporting the argument that species distribution models based on occurrence alone may fail to identify conditions where invasive species have the greatest impact. The role of land-use varied among taxa: urban and suburban land-use increased Siberian elm occurrence, abundance, and dominance, and urban land-use increased Russian olive occurrence, whereas suburban land-use reduced tamarisk dominance. Surprisingly, Siberian elm, which has received scant prior scientific and management attention, occurred as or more frequently than tamarisk and Russian olive (except in undeveloped areas of the Colorado River headwaters) and had higher density and dominance than tamarisk and Russian olive in developed areas. More research is needed to understand the impacts of this largely unrecognized invader on riparian ecosystem services, particularly in urban and suburban areas.