Since the success of an invasive species depends not only upon its intrinsic traits but also on particular characteristics of the recipient habitat, assessing the performance of an invader across habitats provides a more realistic analysis of risk. Such an analysis will not only provide insights into the traits related to invasiveness, but also the habitat characteristics that underpin vulnerability to invasion that, taken together, will facilitate the selection of management strategies to mitigate the invader's effect. In the present study, we considered the Mediterranean basin islands as an excellent study region to test how the same invasive species perform in different habitats within a single island, and to scale up differences among islands with similar climate. We tested how the performance of three widespread plant invaders with clonal growth but contrasting life-history traits, a deciduous tree Ailanthus altissima, a succulent subshrub Carpobrotus spp., and an annual geophyte Oxalis pes-caprae, varied depending upon the species identity, habitat, and invaded island. The environmental parameters considered were habitat type, elevation, species diversity in the invaded plot, and several soil traits (% C, % N, C/N, pH, and relative humidity). The study documents that the performance of these three important and widespread plant invaders is dependent mainly on species identity, and less upon the invaded island's general features. Likewise, differences in performance among habitats were only significant in the case of Ailanthus, whereas Carpobrotus and Oxalis appear to perform equally well in different environments. Ailanthus thus appears to have a broader spectrum of invasiveness, being able to invade a larger number of habitat types. On the contrary, Carpobrotus spp. have not yet invaded habitats different from those where the species have been originally introduced and where they are still commonly spread by humans. Oxalis distribution is mainly related to agricultural activities and disturbed sites, and the total area infested by this geophyte may be more reflection of the extent of suitable habitats than of invasiveness or ecological impact. Our results confirm the potential for these species to significantly alter the functioning of ecosystems in the Mediterranean islands and highlight the risk to other islands not yet invaded.
Consistent performance of invasive plant species within and among islands of the Mediterranean basin RID C-9773-2009 RID F-7454-2011 / Traveset, A; Brundu, Giuseppe Antonio Domenic; Carta, L; Mprezetou, I; Lambdon, P; Manca, M; Medail, F; Moragues, E; Rodriguez Perez, J; Siamantziouras, Asd; Suehs, Cm; Troumbis, Ay; Vila, M; Hulme, Pe. - In: BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS. - ISSN 1387-3547. - 10:6(2008), pp. 847-858. [10.1007/s10530-008-9245-y]