Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effects of widespread non-native trees on regulating ecosystem services.

Abstract

Tree taxa are often planted beyond their native range to increase the provision of some ecosystem services. Yet, they can disrupt ecosystem processes in their new ranges, causing changes in the provision of other services. Here we review the effects of five widespread tree taxa (Acacia, Ailanthus, Eucalyptus, Pinus and Robinia) on six regulating ecosystem services in areas where they are non-native. We conducted a literature search for pair-wise comparisons between sites dominated by any of the selected taxa and sites with native vegetation. An array of variables were used as indicators for each ecosystem service. Data were analysed using multi-level meta-analyses to compare effects of taxa on each ecosystem service, and effects of the same taxa across contexts. We compiled 857 case studies from 107 source papers. Several taxa tended to increase climate regulation, mostly Eucalyptus. Acacia decreased fire risk prevention. Robinia, Acacia and Ailanthus increased soil fertility, while Eucalyptus and Pinus, tended to decrease it. Soil formation was enhanced by Robinia and Ailanthus. Acacia promoted the increase of water in land pools, while Eucalyptus tended to decrease them. All effects show a large heterogeneity across case studies. Part of this heterogeneity could be attributed to gross climatic differences (i.e. biome), to species differences within each genus, to the structure of the recipient ecosystem, and/or to human management. Managers and policy-makers should consider the context-dependency and the potential effects of non-native trees on a wide range of services to ground their decisions. Our analyses also revealed important gaps of knowledge (e.g. on fire risk prevention, erosion control or water cycle regulation) and some potential publication bias. The methodology used here easily allows for future updates as new information will become available.