Evidence of the effects of alien plant colonisation on plant communities is often hindered by the fact that similar patterns in community composition can arise through a variety of processes. The objective of this study is to determine whether changes in species composition in coastal dune communities depend on the colonisation of a neophyte plant, Oenothera stucchii, or on concurrent processes that favour its colonisation. We hypothesised two scenarios: 1) a direct impact of O. stucchii on colonised communities, leading to displacement of native species; or 2) no direct impact of O. stucchii, i.e. the species colonises plant communities by exploiting disturbances that lead to the rearrangement of plant communities. We used the species-habitat network approach to identify potential drivers of changes in species composition, assuming that changes in the structure of the species-habitat network depend on the nature of the driving process. We demonstrated that changes in species composition in plant communities were due to species rearrangement, with colonised communities characterised by more homogeneous composition of species. We suggest that changes in plant communities may not depend on colonisation by O. stucchii per se, but on concomitant processes that affect coastal dune communities while promoting colonisation by O. stucchii.

Alien plant colonisation and community homogenisation: cause or consequence? A test in coastal dunes

Stanisci, A;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Evidence of the effects of alien plant colonisation on plant communities is often hindered by the fact that similar patterns in community composition can arise through a variety of processes. The objective of this study is to determine whether changes in species composition in coastal dune communities depend on the colonisation of a neophyte plant, Oenothera stucchii, or on concurrent processes that favour its colonisation. We hypothesised two scenarios: 1) a direct impact of O. stucchii on colonised communities, leading to displacement of native species; or 2) no direct impact of O. stucchii, i.e. the species colonises plant communities by exploiting disturbances that lead to the rearrangement of plant communities. We used the species-habitat network approach to identify potential drivers of changes in species composition, assuming that changes in the structure of the species-habitat network depend on the nature of the driving process. We demonstrated that changes in species composition in plant communities were due to species rearrangement, with colonised communities characterised by more homogeneous composition of species. We suggest that changes in plant communities may not depend on colonisation by O. stucchii per se, but on concomitant processes that affect coastal dune communities while promoting colonisation by O. stucchii.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11695/119974
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