Regenerating tropical forests are consistently affected by biological invasions across spatial scales

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Juliano Zardetto , Tadeu Siqueira


Biological invasions are complex scale-dependent processes. Metacommunity ecology provides the means to understand the effects of invasive non-native species (INNS) because it explicitly considers how local and regional processes interact to drive the three main components of bio-diversity: alpha, beta, and gamma. White-popinac (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit) is a widely distributed INNS in regenerating forests in the Atlantic Forest (Brazil). White-popinac invasions results in a particular spatial structure as the species forms dense and homogeneous patches, instead of spreading individuals throughout invaded areas. Here we took advantage of this unique spatial configuration formed by patches of native forest, regenerating areas, and patches of white-popinac to investigate how local and regional dynamics of plant (meta-)communities under natural regeneration are affected by white-popinac. We conducted replicat-ed multi-strata surveys in 131 communities distributed among 29 metacommunities of regenerat-ing forests that had different ages of white-popinac invasion. We found (i) mirrored responses among local and regional scales: at both scales, native species richness decreased with the in-crease of invasion age, whereas INNS richness increased; and (ii) β-diversity of native species decreased with the increase of invasion age, showing that time-advance of invasion led to a ho-mogenizing effect. We also found evidence that the advance of white-popinac patches towards regenerating forests increases with time and proximity to the forest fragment, which likely had indirect effects on regenerating communities by reducing the size of the regenerating area. Our results indicate that the effects of white-popinac invasions on regenerating forests can be so vig-orous that they propagate from the local to the regional scale, via a decrease in β-diversity. We reinforce the importance of considering multiscale approaches on assessing effects of white-popinac invasions.



Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


alien species, metacommunities, Natural regeneration, upscaling, biotic indirect effects, white-popinac


Published: 2023-07-05 07:11


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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All data and analytical code associated with this preprint are publicly available