Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Invasion by the leguminous tree Acacia dealbata (Mimosaceae) reduces the native understorey plant species in different communities

Paula Lorenzo A B , Eva Pazos-Malvido A , Margarita Rubido-Bará A , Manuel J. Reigosa A and Luís González A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Plant Biology and Soil Science, University of Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain.

B Centre for Functional Ecology, Department of Life Sicences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, PO Box 3046, 3001-401, Coimbra, Portugal.

C Corresponding author. Email: luis@uvigo.es

Australian Journal of Botany 60(8) 669-675 https://doi.org/10.1071/BT12036
Submitted: 9 June 2011  Accepted: 2 October 2012   Published: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Acacia dealbata Link (Mimosaceae) is a woody leguminous tree introduced to Europe from Australia that has become a serious environmental problem in north-western Spain, where it forms dense monospecific patches threatening native-plant biodiversity. We describe the effects of invasion by A. dealbata on understorey plant composition in shrubland, oak- and pine-forest communities in north-western Spain. Plant species richness and composition, plant density and total plant cover were measured and compared among patches with different invasion status (invaded, transition and non-invaded patches) in each studied community. A clear effect of the community type and invasion on the understorey vegetation was observed. In general, composition of shrubland was different from that of oak and pine forests. We found significant effects of invasion status on species richness, plant density and total plant cover; values were significantly lower in invaded than non-invaded patches. Invasion by A. dealbata also was associated with changes in species composition. In total, eight native species, including the endemic Daboecia cantabrica (thuds) K. Koch, were confined to non-invaded patches and were replaced by other natives in invaded and transition patches. Our results suggest that although A. dealbata represented a serious threat to all of the study communities, the severity of the impact depended on the community type.


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