Alien species in vegetation succession: participation, temporal trends and determining factors in various central European series.
A systematic analysis of vegetation successions following disturbance can outline general invasion patterns and contribute to the management of disturbed and natural ecosystems. Here the participation of alien plant species, with special regard to neophytes, was compared in 20 types of successional series in the Czech Republic, central Europe, to detect possible trends and factors supporting their occurrence. Based on 3473 samples of spontaneously established vegetation, we used linear mixed models and multivariate analyses to assess how alien species were influenced by successional age, average annual temperature and precipitation, altitude, geological substrate, and surrounding land-cover. Out of 1035 plant taxa recorded, 839 were natives, 129 archaeophytes and 67 neophytes. The primary or secondary status of series may influence the participation of neophytes but was not determinative. The most invaded successional series were those in deforested landscapes at lower altitudes. Altitude plus climate, substrate and degree of urbanisation shaped the general vegetation pattern and occurrence of aliens. Neophytes were additionally benefited by density of roads and railways and extent of arable land in the surrounding landscape, confirming that these land uses are relevant invasion pathways and should be targeted in prevention strategies. Alien participation is low and mostly declines in later stages, with few neophytes becoming locally dominant over time. This supports spontaneous succession as a suitable restoration option and places the focus on an early detection of potentially problematic species. These findings may contribute to guiding decisions in landscape restoration and the management of disturbed sites under central European conditions.