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Relationships of climate, residence time, and biogeographical origin with the range sizes and species richness patterns of exotic plants in Great Britain



Based on atlas data with a 10-km cell resolution for 1,406 exotic plant species inhabiting Great Britain, we investigate the extent to which arrival time (residence time) and biogeographical origin (climate suitability) are associated with range sizes of exotic plants and how exotic plant richness is related to current climate and the human footprint. We grouped species according to four arrival periods (archaeophytes and three classes of neophytes), and three broad biogeographical origins, each reflecting a different macroclimate similarity with the study region (northern Holarctic > Mediterranean > and tropical–subtropical). While we found that mean range sizes increased with residence time, no strong effect of the region of origin on range size was detected. Also, across all groups, species richness was primarily and positively associated with temperature, whereas relationships with human footprint were much weaker, albeit also positive in all cases. The proportion of variance explained by environmental models of richness increased from groups comprising recently arrived species to those that arrived earlier, and from tropical–subtropical species to exotics coming from the Holarctic. Our data also illustrate how these trends translate into richness patterns and their association with climate, which become more similar to native richness patterns as residence time and macroclimatic matching increase. In contrast, broad-scale human alteration of ecosystems appeared to be less important for variation in exotic richness than climate, although we did not evaluate anthropogenic effects at finer scales.



Plant EcologySpringer Journals

Published: Nov 1, 2011

DOI: 10.1007/s11258-011-9962-7

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