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Tracing the introduction history of a potentially invasive ornamental shrub: variation in frost hardiness and climate change

Authors


A.-M. T. Skou Dept of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark. E-mail: amt@agrotech.dk

Abstract

Nursery catalogues have recently been used as a method for tracing the introduction history of invasive plants. Information on species, cultivars, plant size and price can help quantify historical changes in propagule pressure. Propagule pressure of invasive ornamentals has to be combined with climatic data to understand shifting distribution patterns of (potentially) invasive plants. In this study the spread of Ilex aquifolium L. cultivars was investigated at the edge of its distribution margin in Denmark. Danish nursery catalogues from 1841–2007 were studied to 1) reconstruct the introduction history of potentially invasive ornamental genotypes of I. aquifolium in Denmark; 2) explore potential factors that could explain naturalization of the species, i.e. nursery location, plant size, hardiness, price and year; 3) investigate whether or not marketing has been more common inside the historical range of the species in western Denmark; and 4) test the hypothesis that marketing of this frost-sensitive species has increased parallel with higher temperatures in the past 100 years. Price, plant size, hardiness, location, and year were recorded for a total of 3213 entries. Through time, increasing prices and the availability of frost-hardy cultivars were the most significant factors contributing to the sale of I. aquifolium in Denmark. The number of nurseries per area, and hence propagule pressure, was higher in eastern Denmark, outside the natural range of the species. The proportion of very frost-hardy cultivars increased with milder winter temperatures. The main conclusion from this combined nursery catalogue and climate study are that nurseries in an indirect way play an important role in increasing the propagule pressure of potentially invasive ornamentals and thus can affect distribution of native species.

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