Biological invasions have become one of the main drivers of habitat degradation and biodiversity loss in island ecosystems worldwide, which are hot spots of biodiversity and contain rare habitats and endemic species. Small islands are particularly vulnerable to the threat of invasive species.
A recent study compared data from 37 small Mediterranean islands with those gathered during a previous survey in the same study area, aiming at highlighting the main changes that have occurred in non-native plant species diversity, their establishment and distribution in recent years.
The results show that the plant invasion phenomenon has intensified considerably, with a sharp increase in the number of species, in their levels of establishment and in the extent of their distribution; 203 non-native plant species were recorded, out of which 147 established on at least one of the islands investigated. The most remarkable plants detected include acacias and succulents, two groups that appear to be emerging very rapidly and to be posing new threats to the conservation of the islands’ natural environment.
The study thus confirms that plant invasions on Mediterranean islands are a serious environmental problem that threatens biodiversity conservation, and stresses the importance of further increasing efforts aimed at preventing, controlling or mitigating the effects of invasive alien species.
More information: Celesti-Grapow l., Bassi l., Brundu G., Camarda I., Carli E., D’Auria G., Del Guacchio E., Domina G., Ferretti G., Foggi B., Lazzaro l., Mazzola P., Peccenini S., Pretto F., Stinca A., BlasI C., 2016. Plant invasions on small Mediterranean islands: An overview
. Plant Biosystems 150(5): 1119-1133.
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