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Open Access item Comparing naturalized alien plants and recipient habitats across an east–west gradient in the Mediterranean Basin

Authors:Arianoutsou, Margarita
Delipetrou, Pinelopi
Celesti-Grapow, Laura
Basnou, Corina
Bazos, Ioannis
Kokkoris, Yannis
Blasi, Carlo
Vilà, Montserrat
Keywords:Biological invasions, biotic homogenization, European Mediterranean countries, floristic similarity, invasibility, level of invasion, naturalized plants, plant traits
Issue Date:2010
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing
Citation:Journal of Biogeography, 37, 1811–1823 (2010)
Abstract:Aim To investigate alien plant species invasion levels in different habitats and alien species traits by comparing the naturalized flora in different areas of the same biogeographical region. Location Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. Methods Comparison of floristic composition, species traits and recipient habitats of naturalized alien neophytes across an east–west gradient comprising four countries in the European Mediterranean basin. Results A total of 782 naturalized neophytes were recorded; only 30 species were present in all four countries. Although floristic similarity is low, the four alien floras share the same patterns of growth form (mostly herbs), life cycle (mostly perennials) and life form (mostly therophytes, hemicryptophytes and phanerophytes). The majority of the recipient habitats were artificial. Wetlands were the natural habitats, with the highest numbers of naturalized species. Floristic similarity analyses revealed: (1) the highest floristic similarity between Italy and Spain, both of which were more similar to Greece than to Cyprus; (2) two groups of floristic similarity between habitat categories in each country (Greece–Cyprus and Italy–Spain); (3) a higher degree of homogenization in the plant assemblages in different habitats in Greece and Cyprus and a lower degree of homogenization in those in Italy and Spain; and (4) a higher degree of homogenization in artificial and natural fresh-water habitats than in the other natural habitats. Main conclusions The floristic similarity of naturalized neophytes between the four countries is low, although the overall analysis indicates that the western group (Italy–Spain) is separated from the eastern group (Greece–Cyprus). Similar patterns emerged regarding the life-history traits and recipient habitats. The artificial habitats and the natural wet habitats are those that are invaded most and display the greatest homogenization in all four countries. Coastal habitats display a lower degree of homogenization but a high frequency of aliens. Dry shrubs and rocky habitats display a lower degree of homogenization and a low frequency of aliens
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02324.x
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