Invasion and Disturbance

The majority ofinvasive species invade native communities after disturbance, so that invasive species are common in early old-field succession and also in restoration sites. However, some invasive species can invade natural areas without the help of human disturbance. In wilderness canyons of southern Illinois, D. oppositifolia (Chinese yam) can invade floodplains of streams via bulbils (asexually produced disseminules). Lygodium microphyllum (Old World climbing fern) invades tree islands in the Everglades of Florida. Also, Impatiens glandulifera is dispersed along rivers in Central Europe. These three examples are situations where flood pulsing along stream channels spreads the disseminules of invasive species. Invasives that are maintained by natural disturbances are particularly problematic from a management perspective, because the same natural disturbances, which are critical in maintaining plant community types, also maintain these invasive species.

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