Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 1671–1686 | Cite as

Socioeconomics drive woody invasive plant richness in New England, USA through forest fragmentation

  • Jenica M. Allen
  • Thomas J. Leininger
  • James D. HurdJr.
  • Daniel L. Civco
  • Alan E. Gelfand
  • John A. SilanderJr.
Research article


Woody invasive plants are an increasing component of the New England flora. Their success and geographic spread are mediated in part by landscape characteristics. We tested whether woody invasive plant richness was higher in landscapes with many forest edges relative to other forest types and explained land use/land cover and forest fragmentation patterns using socioeconomic and physical variables. Our models demonstrated that woody invasive plant richness was higher in landscapes with more edge forest relative to patch, perforated, and especially core forest types. Using spatially-explicit, hierarchical Bayesian, compositional data models we showed that infrastructure and physical factors, including road length and elevation range, and time-lagged socioeconomic factors, primarily population, help to explain development and forest fragmentation patterns. Our social–ecological approach identified landscape patterns driven by human development and linked them to increased woody plant invasions. Identifying these landscape patterns will aid ongoing efforts to use current distribution patterns to better predict where invasive species may occur in unsampled regions under current and future conditions.


Northeastern United States Invasive Plant Atlas of New England IPANE Alien invasive species Exotic plants Social-ecological Land use/land cover 



Support for this collaborative project was provided by the USDA-NRI (Grant 2008-35615-19014) to JAS, the University of Connecticut Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering Summer Research Grant to JMA, and USDA grants to the New England Invasive Plant Center. We thank Inés Ibáñez, Robin Chazdon, and three anonymous reviewers whose thoughtful evaluation improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10980_2013_9916_MOESM1_ESM.docx (950 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 949 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenica M. Allen
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Leininger
    • 2
  • James D. HurdJr.
    • 3
  • Daniel L. Civco
    • 3
  • Alan E. Gelfand
    • 2
  • John A. SilanderJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Statistical ScienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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