• exotic species;
  • greenways;
  • landscape context;
  • landscape structure;
  • riparian buffers;
  • urban forest


Restoring urban forests often involves eradicating exotic species and diligently guarding against future invasions. Understanding how landscape structure contributes to the distribution of exotic species may inform these management efforts. To date, the distribution of exotic species in forested patches has been correlated with the type of development surrounding the patch, with those surrounded by agricultural or urban development often more highly invaded. Yet, previous studies have categorized land use types and have not examined more local-scale changes in land use. These local changes may be particularly important in urban areas where forested patches are immediately surrounded by diverse land use types. Our study examined how two key aspects of landscape structure, patch size and adjacent land use, may influence patterns of exotic species invasion of riparian buffers within Raleigh and Cary, North Carolina, United States. We found that large patch size alone, in our case, wide riparian buffers, does not protect against exotic species invasion. Patches surrounded by higher canopy-cover landscapes (e.g., forests and older residential developments with mature canopy) were more likely to be invaded than those surrounded by less canopy cover (e.g., shopping malls and other commercial development). We attribute these results, in part, to increased pressure from exotic propagules from adjacent forests. When restoring urban forests, attention should be paid to local land use to better plan for successful, long-term eradication of exotic species.