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Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 663–675 | Cite as

Tree invasions into treeless areas: mechanisms and ecosystem processes

  • Philip W. Rundel
  • Ian A. Dickie
  • David M. Richardson
Original Paper

Abstract

Non-native tree invasions occur not only in woodland or forest vegetation, but also into areas with little or no native tree presence. Limiting factors for tree establishment and survival include seasonal or annual drought, low nutrient availability, cold temperature extremes, fire, and other abiotic conditions to which trees are poorly adapted as well as biotic conditions such as herbivory and lack of soil mutualist inoculum. Tree invasions of grasslands and semi-arid riparian areas in particular are now widespread and frequently result in the rapid conversion of these habitats to woodlands or forests. In some cases, these invasions are the result of a change in extrinsic conditions such as climate, fire, and/or grazing that remove what have been previous barriers to tree establishment. However, in other cases, tree species with particular life-history and dispersal traits fill open niches or outcompete native species. Significant examples of tree invasion into treeless areas can be seen with invasions of Pinus species into temperate grasslands and fynbos shrublands, Melaleuca quinquenervia and Triadica sebifera into grassy wetlands, Prosopis and Tamarix species into semi-arid riparian zones, and Acacia and Morella invasions into nutrient-poor shrublands and barrens. The establishment of trees into treeless areas may have strong impacts on ecosystem processes, influencing biogeochemical cycling, carbon sequestration and cycling, and ecohydrology, as well possible edaphic legacies that persist even if trees are removed.

Keywords

Elaeagnus Fynbos Open niche Melaleuca Morella Pinus Prosopis Tree invasion Triadica 

Notes

Acknowledgments

PWR is grateful for support from the University of California Los Angeles and the Stunt Ranch Santa Monica Mountains Reserve. IAD acknowledges Core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group. DMR acknowledges support from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology and the National Research Foundation (grant 85417). The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust funded DMR’s participation in the workshop at Bariloche, Argentina, in September 2012 at which an early version of this paper was tabled. We thank all delegates at the workshop for their contributions to the ideas that are presented here.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip W. Rundel
    • 1
  • Ian A. Dickie
    • 2
    • 4
  • David M. Richardson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California (UCLA)Los AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Botany and Zoology, Centre for Invasion BiologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  4. 4.Bio-Protection Research CentreLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

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