Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 2645–2668 | Cite as

Impact of alien species on dune systems: a multifaceted approach

  • Matteo Marcantonio
  • Duccio Rocchini
  • Gianluigi Ottaviani
Original Paper


We applied a multifaceted approach, in terms of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity, to study at fine scale how three plant communities occurring in a Mediterranean dune have been affected by the encroachment of alien species. We sampled 81 sites in a Site of Community Importance in Central Italy. Past and present land use/cover data have been derived using GIS and remote sensing tools. Information on plants phylogenesis and functional traits has been gathered from several databases. Ecological variables have been collected. GLMs in conjunction with an Information Based approach were used to model species composition, richness and phylogenetic diversity. Multivariate analysis has been used to study functional diversity. The results outlined how total species richness is related to recent land transformations and to a set of environmental factors. The analyses of functional and phylogenetic diversity support the idea that alien species significantly affect the functional and phylogenetic characteristics of the native plant communities. Habitat filtering seems to be predominant in not-invaded plots, whereas limiting similarity/niche differentiation is predominant in driving community assembly of invaded communities. The attained scenario depicts the spread of a reduced group of alien species phylogenetically and functionally well-differentiated, able to reduce the abundance of native species, not to exclude them though. Ultimately, the multifaceted approach assisted in understanding the community assembly of dune vegetation, and to discern the relative impact of alien species on native plant communities. Such approach represents a crucial step to achieve an efficient management of dune habitats, as useful tool to monitor and to effectively protect their biodiversity and functioning.


Functional diversity Phylogenetic diversity Biodiversity conservations Alien species Dune systems 



We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for precious insights on a previous draft of the manuscript. The PhD Scholarship of Matteo Marcantonio is supported by FIRS > T (FEM International Research School e Trentino). DR is supported by the EU BON (Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network) project, funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework programme, Contract No. 308454 and by the ICT COST Action TD1202 “Mapping and the citizen sensor”, funded by the European Commission.

Supplementary material

10531_2014_742_MOESM1_ESM.docx (61 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 60 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matteo Marcantonio
    • 1
  • Duccio Rocchini
    • 1
  • Gianluigi Ottaviani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Molecular Ecology, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund MachGIS and Remote Sensing UnitS. Michele all’ AdigeItaly
  2. 2.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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