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Keywords:

  • Biological invasions;
  • colonization pressure;
  • donor habitat;
  • North America;
  • propagule pressure;
  • recipient habitat

Abstract

Aim

The percentage of alien species found in a given habitat depends on the habitat vulnerability to invasion (invasibility) and the number of species introduced (propagule pressure). However, the global pool of alien species suited to a given habitat also varies. Here, we identify donor habitats of invasive alien plant species originating from Europe, examine the match between habitats they occupy in Europe and recipient areas and test whether donor habitats of invasive plants tend to be vulnerable or resistant to invasions.

Location

Europe (source area), North America and the World (recipient areas).

Methods

Native European vascular plants invasive in North America and other parts of the World were identified for 35 European natural habitats. Percentages of species invasive outside Europe, of the total number of native species occurring in each European habitat, were used to compare these habitats as donors for invasion. Habitat preferences of European species in their recipient areas were compared with those in Europe.

Results

European alluvial forests, alder carrs and coastal sand-dunes harbour the highest percentages of native species that are invasive outside Europe. Outside their native range, European species tend to invade habitats that are similar to their donor habitats in Europe, but species of alluvial and coastal habitats also frequently invade other habitats. European habitats that are important donors of invasive species globally experience the highest levels of invasion by alien species from other regions; this relationship was, however, not confirmed for invasions to North America if considered separately.

Main conclusions

Some European habitats are more important donors of invasive plants than others. Therefore, the level of invasion of different habitats is affected also by the differences in the number of invasive species provided by various donor habitats. At a global scale, more important donor habitats are also likely to be more invaded.