Comparing the rate of invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum at continental, regional, and local scales
This paper compares the rate of invasion of Heracleum mantegazzianum (Apiaceae), a Caucasian species invading Europe, at three spatial scales (continental, regional, and local). The rate of invasion was evaluated using inclusion curves, by plotting the cumulative number of invaded countries against time on the continental scale of Europe, number of occupied grid cells at the regional scale of the Czech Republic, and invaded area inferred from a series of aerial photographs taken at the local scale over a period of 49 years in the Slavkovký les region, Czech Republic. Time of 50% inclusion (with 95% confidence intervals, CI) of invaded countries, occupied grid cells, and invaded area was assessed. The invasion was slowest at the continental scale (62 years, CI = 53–70) and did not differ significantly between regional (16 years, CI = 10–20) and local (22 years, CI = 19–24) scales. Our results indicate that there are two different mechanisms of spread acting together in this system, namely human influences and natural spread, and the relative influence of these mechanisms appears to change in an inverse proportion from the largest to the smallest scale. At the local scale, under suitable habitat conditions, the process is driven by biological traits of the species related to dispersal. At the continental and regional scales, humans played a crucial role in the invasion of H. mantegazzianum by planting it as a garden ornamental. At these scales, human-mediated dispersal seems to have been the major driver of spread, responsible for creating dispersal foci in the initial phases of invasion. Species traits played an important role in local spread, resulting in the colonization of new sites.