Why do alien plant species that reproduce in natural habitats occur more frequently?

Authors

  • Ingolf Kühn,

    Corresponding author
    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany. E-mail: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
      Correspondence: Ingolf Kühn, UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany. Tel.: + 49 345 553 5311. Fax.: + 49 345 553 5329. E-mail: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
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  • Marlene Brandenburg,

    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany. E-mail: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
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  • Stefan Klotz

    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany. E-mail: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de
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Correspondence: Ingolf Kühn, UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany. Tel.: + 49 345 553 5311. Fax.: + 49 345 553 5329. E-mail: ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de

ABSTRACT

The invasion process can be divided into several phases. We consider invasion patterns related to two aspects of the invasion process: the spread of a species in Germany as counted by the number of occupied grid cells, and the degree of naturalization in Germany (i.e. whether a plant species is exclusively naturalized in human-made habitats or also in (semi-)natural habitats). Although in Germany the area of natural habitats is smaller than that of human-made habitats, the area of occupancy of the respective alien plant species is the opposite. We tested whether both patterns could be explained by niche-breadth variables, namely the number of inhabited habitat types, and vegetation formations, the range of human impact levels, the number of inhabited continents, the number of inhabited floristic zones (climatic zones), and the amplitude of oceanity. Tests were conducted across species and across phylogenetically-independent contrasts, using generalized linear models, in particular, hierarchical partitioning. The number of occupied grid cells could be explained by niche-breadth variables, especially by number of habitats, number of formations, and amplitude of oceanity. Contrary to our expectations, none of these variables could explain the degree of naturalization in cross-species analyses, and amplitude of oceanity is the only stably significant variable that explains the degree of naturalization when analysing phylogenetically-independent contrasts. We conclude that the degree of naturalization is probably independent from niche breadth, and that properties of a larger area of occupancy, i.e. sample size (or propagule pressure), could be responsible for this pattern.

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