Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Land-use change and propagule pressure promote plant invasions in tropical rainforest remnants.

Abstract

Context: Intact tropical rainforests are considered robust to plant invasions. However, land-use change alters the structure and species composition of native forest, opening up tropical landscapes to invasion. Yet, the relative roles of key drivers on tropical forest invasions remain little investigated. Objectives: We examine factors affecting plant invasion of rainforest remnants in oil-palm dominated landscapes in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We hypothesized that invasion is greater in highly fragmented landscapes, and in disturbed forests with lower native plant diversity (cf. old-growth rainforests). Methods: Native and exotic plants were surveyed in 47 plots at 17 forest sites, spanning gradients in landscape-scale fragmentation and local forest disturbance. Using partial least squares path-modelling, we examined correlations between invasion, fragmentation, forest disturbance, propagule pressure, soil characteristics and native plant community. Results: We recorded 6999 individuals from 329 genera in total, including eight exotic species (0-51% of individuals/plot, median = 1.4%) representing shrubs, forbs, graminoids and climbers. The best model (R2 = 0.343) revealed that invasion was correlated with disturbance and propagule pressure (high prevalence of exotic species in plantation matrix), the latter being driven by greater fragmentation of the landscape. Our models revealed a significant negative correlation between invasion and native tree seedlings and sapling community diversity. Conclusions: Increasing landscape fragmentation promotes exotic plant invasion in remnant tropical forests, especially if local disturbance is high. The association between exotic species invasion and young native tree community may have impacts for regeneration given that fragmentation is predicted to increase and so plant invasion may become more prevalent.