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The role of land-use history in major invasions by woody plant species in the northeastern North American landscape

  • Author(s): Mosher, Eric S.
  • Silander, John A.
  • Latimer, Andrew M.
  • et al.
Abstract

Land-use history as a predictor of invasive alien plant distributions has received little study, especially across large spatial and temporal scales. Here we evaluate the importance of land-use history and other environmental characteristics as predictors of the distributions of a suite important invasive woody plant species in the northeastern United States. Using historical aerial photographs, we delineated 69 years (1934–2003) of land-use change across a typically heterogeneous 95 km2 landscape. We randomly surveyed over 500 sites for six invasive plant species. We found that land use history patterns strongly affected presence and abundance of the invasive plants as a group, but affected some species more than others. Generally, past agricultural use favored invasive species, whereas intact forest blocks discouraged them. Current land-use trends toward residential/commercial development favor disturbance-adapted species like Celastrus orbiculatus (asiatic bittersweet) and will probably slow the spread of post-agricultural specialists such as Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry).

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