Aim To assess how habitat affinities in the native distribution range influence the invasion success of 282 central European neophytes (alien plants introduced after ad 1500).
Location Czech Republic.
Methods Classification trees were used to determine which native habitats donate the most alien species, the correspondence between habitats occupied by species in their native and invaded distribution ranges, and invasion success of species originating from different habitats.
Results The species most likely to naturalize in Central Europe are those associated with thermophile woodland fringes in their native range (81%), cultivated areas of gardens and parks (75%) and broad-leaved deciduous woodlands (72%). The largest proportions of invasive species recruit from those that occur on riverine terraces and eroded slopes, or grow in both deciduous woodland and riverine scrub. When the relative role of habitats in the native range is assessed as a determinant of the probability that a species will become invasive in concert with other factors (the species’ residence time, life history, region of origin), the direct effect of habitat is negligible. However, the effect of native habitats on patterns of invasions observed in central Europe is manifested by large differences in the numbers of species they supply to the invaded region. More than 50 neophytes were recruited from each of the following habitats: dry grasslands, ruderal habitats, deciduous woodland, inland cliffs, rock pavements and outcrops, and tall-herb fringes and meadows.
Main conclusions Casual species recruit from a wider range of habitats in their native range than they occupy in the invaded range; naturalized but not invasive species inhabit a comparable spectrum of habitats in both ranges, and successful invaders occupy a wider range of habitats in the invaded than in the native range. This supports the idea that the invasive phase of the process is associated with changes in biological features that allow for extension of the spectrum of habitats invaded.