The effects of landscape history and time-lags on plant invasion in Mediterranean coastal habitats

Pablo González-Moreno, Joan Pino, Andrés Cózar, Juan García-de-Lomas, Montserrat Vilà

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7 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Human-driven landscape changes may promote plant invasions by increasing propagule pressure and providing favourable conditions for non-native species to establish and spread. The increase in invasion levels might not be immediate but rather exhibit a time-lag (i.e. invasion debt). Moreover, the relationship between invasion and landscape history (i.e. changes in landscape composition) might be extremely complex as it might also include extinction debts of invasive species currently in regression. In order to understand the effect of landscape history on plant invasion, we studied the invasion level in coastal plant communities affected by intense human-driven landscape alteration in the last 50 years. We identified all non-native plant species within 809 grid cells (250 × 250 m) along ~500 km of the Spanish SW coast. We tested the association of (1) non-native richness conditional on the overall presence of non-natives (at least one species), and (2) the occurrence of the most frequent non-native species, with the percentage of human land-cover categories in 1956, 1991 and 2007 using a multimodel inference approach. We used these models to project future invasion patterns in the region. We found non-native richness to be more associated with land-cover variables in 1956 than in 2007, suggesting the existence of an invasion debt, but not for the overall presence of non-natives. For most frequent species, the effects of past landscape alteration depended on the introduction pathway and the region of origin. Species used in agriculture were more related to past cropland area, while most of the species used in gardening or forestry showed higher affinity for recently altered areas. These results highlight the relevance of the species’ introduction history and landscape history in assessing future long-term invasion trends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-561
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Agriculture
  • Introduction pathway
  • Land-cover change
  • Non-native plants
  • Time-lag
  • Urbanization


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