EU: Detailed maps of invasive species impacts on European landscapes

The first map of the level of alien plant invasions in European Union
was published in the Wiley-Blackwell journal Diversity and
Distributions. An international team of Czech, Spanish and British
plant ecologists investigated species composition of vegetation in
more than 50 000 sites in northwestern, southern and central Europe.
In each of these sites they quantified the proportion of alien to
native plant species.

“We found that the highest risk of alien plant
invasions was in agricultural and urban ecosystems. Low levels of
invasion were in natural and semi-natural grasslands and most
woodlands, and the lowest levels in the Mediterranean evergreen
vegetation, heathlands and peatlands. This pattern was quite
consistent among European regions with contrasting climates,
biogeography, history and socio-economic background”, said senior
author Milan Chytrý from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
“The level of plant invasions basically depends on the distribution of
different ecosystem types across Europe.

High levels of invasion are
typical of lowland areas of western and central Europe while low
levels are found in northern Europe and mountain regions across the
continent. Low levels of invasion also occur in the Mediterranean
region except its coastline and irrigated fields”, added Petr Pyšek
from the Institute of Botany Pruhonice, Academy of Sciences of the
Czech Republic.

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