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Do invasive alien plants really threaten river bank vegetation? A case study based on plant communities typical for Chenopodium ficifolium-An indicator of large river valleys.

ABSTRACT: Riparian zones are very rich in species but subjected to strong anthropogenic changes and extremely prone to alien plant invasions, which are considered to be a serious threat to biodiversity. Our aim was to determine the spatial distribution of Chenopodium ficifolium, a species demonstrating strong confinement to large river valleys in Central Europe and an indicator of annual pioneer nitrophilous vegetation developing on river banks, which are considered to be of importance to the European Community. Additionally, the habitat preferences of the species were analysed. Differences in the richness and abundance of species diagnostic for riverside habitats, as well as the contribution of resident and invasive alien species in vegetation plots along three rivers differing in terms of size and anthropogenic impact were also examined. Finally, the effect of invaders on the phytocoenoses typical for C. ficifolium was assessed. The frequency of C. ficifolium clearly decreased with an increasing distance from the river. Among natural habitats, the species mostly preferred the banks of large rivers. The vegetation plots developing on the banks of the three studied rivers differed in total species richness, the number and cover of resident, diagnostic and invasive alien species, as well as in species composition. Our research indicates that abiotic and anthropogenic factors are the most significant drivers of species richness and plant cover of riverbank vegetation, and invasive alien plants affect this type of vegetation to a small extent.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5854390 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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