Risk analysis of potential invasive plants in Spain

Jara Andreu, Montserrat Vilà

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Once non-native species become established in a new region, they are extremely difficult to eradicate or control, suggesting an urgent need for the development of early warning systems to determine the probability of a given species becoming invasive. Risk assessment schemes are valuable tools to diminish the risk of invasion and to concentrate resources on preventing the entrance and spread of those species with higher risk of invasion. For many European countries, plant species not yet introduced to the country and with high invasive potential have not been identified. The present study aims to identify and rank non-native plant species that could potentially become invasive in Spain if introduced. As a first step, a plant data set was pre-selected for screening, containing invasive plants in neighbouring countries and in other Mediterranean regions of the world but not present in Spain. A preliminary list of 80 species was obtained, Leguminosae being the most represented family (15%) and gardening (62%) the most common pathway of introduction. As for the potential European Nature Information System (EUNIS) habitats to invade, heath land and scrubland habitats types (F; 19%), followed by constructed, industrial and artificial habitats (J; 14%) and woodland and forest habitats (G; 13%) seem to be the habitats most at risk despite F and G habitats currently being the least invaded in Spain. We ranked these potential invasive species using the Australian Weed Risk Assessment system and a Risk Assessment for Central Europe developed by Weber & Gut (2004) [Weber, E., & Gut, D. (2004). Assessing the risk of potentially invasive plant species in central Europe. Journal for Nature Conservation, 12, 171-179]. Most species received intermediate values in both tests. The species with higher scores were mainly aquatic plants and should be prohibited or kept out of trade. Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae) obtained the highest score in both tests and therefore is the species with the highest risk to become invasive in Spain if introduced. © 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-44
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Alien plants
  • Early warning
  • Invasiveness
  • Mediterranean regions
  • Non-native plants
  • Weed risk assessment (WRA)


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