Invasiveness of alien plants in Brussels is related to their phylogenetic similarity to native species

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Abstract Aim 

Understanding the processes that drive invasion success of alien species has received considerable attention in current ecological research. From an evolutionary point of view, many studies have shown that the phylogenetic similarity between the invader species and the members of the native community may be an important aspect of invasiveness. In this study, using a coarse-scale systematic sampling grid of 1 km2, we explore whether the occupancy frequency of two groups of alien species, archaeophytes and neophytes, in the urban angiosperm flora of Brussels is influenced by their phylogenetic relatedness to native species. Location 

The city of Brussels (Belgium). Methods 

We used ordinary least-squares regressions and quantile regressions for analysing the relationship between the occupancy frequency of alien species in the sampled grid and their phylogenetic distance to the native species pool. Results 

Alien species with high occupancy frequency in the sampled grid are, on average, more phylogenetically related to native species than are less frequent aliens, although this relationship is significant only for archaeophytes. In addition, as shown by the quantile regressions, the relationship between phylogenetic relatedness to the native flora and occupancy frequency is much stronger for the most frequent aliens than for rare aliens. Main conclusions 

Our data suggest that it is unlikely that species with very low phylogenetic relatedness to natives will become successful invaders with very high distribution in the area studied. To the contrary, under future climate warming scenarios, present-day urban aliens of high occupancy frequency are likely to become successful invaders even outside urban areas.

Keywords: Archaeophytes; biological invasions; neophytes; phylogenetic distance; quantile regression; randomization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: IASMA Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Environment and Natural Resources Area, Via E. Mach 1, 38010 S. Michele all’Adige, TN, Italy

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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