Riverbanks as battlegrounds: why does the abundance of native and invasive plants vary?



Pattison Z, Vallejo-Marín M & Willby N (2019) Riverbanks as battlegrounds: why does the abundance of native and invasive plants vary?. Ecosystems, 22 (3), pp. 578-586.

The abundance of invasive alien plants (IAPs) can vary dramatically over small spatial scales for reasons that are often unclear. Understanding these could offer key insights for containing invasions, accepting that eradication is often no longer feasible. This study investigated determinants of IAP cover on riverbanks, a well-known hotspot of invasion, using Impatiens glandulifera, a prolific invader across the Northern hemisphere, as a model species. Within this framework we included the potential for dominant native vegetation cover, mediated by favourable environmental conditions, to resist invasion by I. glandulifera through negative association. Our analyses, using structural equation modelling, showed that I. glandulifera is more sensitive to environmental conditions, than dominant native vegetation. High soil moisture was a key determinant of I. glandulifera cover, having negative effects across the riparian zone. Spatially, I. glandulifera and dominant native vegetation responded differently to environmental conditions. Sites with steeper banks had less dominant native vegetation at the water's edge, potentially favouring I. glandulifera cover through reduced competition. In general, greater abundance of dominant native vegetation presented a more invasion-resistant

competition; community dynamics; environmental effects; flow regime; Himalayan balsam; invasive species; plants; river restoration

Ecosystems: Volume 22, Issue 3

FundersScottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Publication date30/04/2019
Publication date online06/08/2018
Date accepted by journal19/07/2018

People (2)


Dr Zarah Pattison

Dr Zarah Pattison

Senior Lecturer in Plant Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Nigel Willby

Professor Nigel Willby

Professor & Associate Dean of Research, Biological and Environmental Sciences