Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Anthropogenic and environmental determinants of alien plant species spatial distribution on an island scale.

Abstract

Mediterranean islands are considered especially vulnerable to biological invasions by alien plants. However, there is a lack of studies on island scale regarding the factors that determine alien plant's spatial distribution, and the way they affect invasion process. A roadside survey of alien plant species was conducted on Lesvos, the 8th largest island in Mediterranean basin. Data on species counts and explanatory variables were aggregated to a 1 sq. km vector grid and brought together into a single GIS layer. Alien species counts were modelled by using a Negative-binomial model while a Generalised Additive Model was used to examine possible non-linear relationships to the predictors by using splines. A subset of significant factors, related both to human activities and the environment, shaped the spatial distribution of aliens and influenced, in various ways, their future invasion outcome. Transformed areas with high levels of anthropogenic pressures and disturbances, including high population numbers, dense road network, ports, and intensive land use, as is the case for coastal zones, promoted the presence of alien species. Contrary, modified areas, such as grazed lands, seemed to restrict alien species occurrences, possibly due to the long grazing history these areas present, a regime in which aliens are not adapted. Alien plants presence was positively associated with high levels of NPP, diversity of geological substrates, and a west-facing aspect. Anthropogenic determinants of alien spatial patterns were primarily connected to increased propagule pressure, whereas environmental factors demonstrated the preference of alien plants for resource-rich environments.