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Ecology. 2009 Jul;90(7):1802-9.

The role of landscape connectivity in assembling exotic plant communities: a network analysis.

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  • 1University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Appalachian Laboratory, Frostburg, Maryland 21532, USA.


Landscape fragmentation and exotic species invasions are two modern-day forces that have strong and largely irreversible effects on native diversity worldwide. The spatial arrangement of habitat fragments is critical in affecting movement of individuals through a landscape, but little is known about how invasive species respond to landscape configuration relative to native species. This information is crucial for managing the global threat of invasive species spread. Using network analysis and partial Mantel tests to control for covarying environmental conditions, we show that forest plant communities in a fragmented landscape have spatial structure that is best captured by a network representation of landscape connectivity. This spatial structure is less pronounced in invasive species and exotic species dispersed by animals. Our research suggests that invasive species can spread more easily in fragmented landscapes than native species, which may make communities more homogeneous over time.

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