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Alien and native species in Central European urban floras: a quantitative comparison

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The paper provides quantitative information on the occurrence of alien species in Central European cities and analyses factors determining the richness of alien and native floras in this habitat type. Data for 54 cities (25 Polish, 24 German, 4 Czech and 1 Austrian) were gathered, and the representation of archaeophytes (i.e. aliens introduced before 1500ad), neophytes (introduced after that date) and native species was expressed. In an average city there were 87.4 archaeophytes (15.2% of the city flora) and 172.4 neophytes (25.2%) giving a total of 259.7 for alien species (40.3%). The number of native species averaged 386.5. The numbers of species in each category of immigration status increased significantly with city size. For neophytes, the species-area relationship showed a higher slope (0.49) on log–log axes than for both archaeophytes (0.16) and native species (0.30). Not only the number, but also the relative contribution of neophytes to the total flora, increased with city size, indicating that neophytes are the group which are most closely associated with human activity. On the other hand, archaeophytes were better represented in smaller cities, as they were confined to rural environment. A step-wise multiple regression was used to test for environmental variables acting as significant predictors, and explained between 40 and 65% of variation in the species numbers for particular categories of immigration status, providing the best fit for neophytes. City size was the best predictor for each characteristic, except of the proportion of total aliens, where the percentage of explained variability was low (8.2%), with latitude being the only significant predictor. Temperature was another highly significant predictor for the number of archaeophytes and total aliens, reflecting the origin of aliens in warmer areas. There was an effect of region on some flora characteristics. Polish cities had significantly higher proportion of archaeophytes and of total aliens than German cities. It is concluded that the occurrence of native and alien species in urban floras follows rather different pattern.

Keywords: Central Europe; Environmental conditions; Plant invasions; Quantitative pattern; Species-area relationships; Urban flora

Document Type: Original Article


Publication date: 1998-01-01

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