Does origin determine environmental impacts? Not for bamboos.
Negative environmental impacts can result from the human-mediated breakdown of biogeographic boundaries that historically shaped species distributions leading to rapid population expansions, that is, from biological invasions. However, the alteration of natural ecosystems by humans has created opportunities for both native and non-native species to become weedy. We assessed whether origin status (native or non-native) matters for the type and magnitude of environmental impacts caused by bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae). We used a systematic global literature search and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT) scheme as the basis for scoring impacts of bamboo species. We found that the type and severity of recorded impacts were similar in the native and non-native ranges of weedy bamboos, and that the habitats in which impacts are most often reported (i.e., temperate and tropical forests) were also the same. Origin was not a strong predictor of environmental impacts for bamboos. Rather, impacts are likely to be a response to human-mediated land transformation and disturbance of forests. Further research on the mechanisms whereby bamboos impact other species is needed to guide management strategies in their native ranges and as input to risk assessments for new introductions and plantings.