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Alien plants in checklists and floras: towards better communication between taxonomists and ecologists

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Abstract:

The number of studies dealing with plant invasions is increasing rapidly, but the accumulating body of knowledge has unfortunately also spawned increasing confusion about terminology. Invasions are a global phenomenon and comparison of geographically distant regions and their introduced biota is a crucially important methodological approach for elucidation of the determinants of invasiveness and invasibility. Comparative studies of alien floras provide substantial new insights to our understanding of general patterns of plant invasions. Such studies, using information in previously published floras and checklists, are fundamentally dependent on the quality of the assessment of particular species with respect to their taxonomic identity, time of immigration and invasion status. Three crucial decisions should be made when defining the status of a plant species in a given region: (1) whether the taxon is native or alien to that region (origin status); (2) what is its position in the invasion process, i.e., when was it introduced (residence status); and (3) what is the degree of its naturalization and possible invasion (invasion status). Standard floras differ hugely in their treatment of non-native species and those with appropriate categorization of alien species according to their status are rather rare. The present paper suggests definitions of terms associated with plant invasions and places these into the context of floras. Recommendations are outlined on how to deal with the issue of plant invasions in standard floras with the aim of contributing to a better understanding between taxonomists and ecologists and allowing more detailed comparative analyses of alien floras of various regions of the world.

Keywords: ALIEN; BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS; EXOTIC SPECIES; HYBRID; INVASIVE; NATIVE; NATURALIZED; PLANT INVASIONS; STANDARD FLORAS; TERMINOLOGY; WEED

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, CZ-252 43 Pruhonice, Czech Republic. 2: Institute for Plant Conservation, Botany Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa. 3: Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A. 4: 4 Section of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A. 5: Department of Biology, University of York, York YO10 5DD, U.K.

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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