Alien plants as mediators of ecosystem services and disservices in urban systems: a global review

Potgieter, Luke; Gaertner, Mirijam; Kueffer, Christoph; Larson, Brendon; Livingstone, Stuart; O'Farrell, Patrick; Richardson, David
December 2017
Biological Invasions;Dec2017, Vol. 19 Issue 12, p3571
Academic Journal
Urban areas have unique assemblages of species which are governed by novel ecological processes. People living in these environments have specific needs and demands in terms of ecosystem services (ES). Urban ecosystems are transformed in many ways by human activities and their floras comprise a high proportion of alien plant species, many of which were intentionally introduced to provide, augment or restore ES. Urban environments also have novel disturbance regimes and provide colonization sites for the establishment, dispersal and proliferation of alien plant species; such conditions often generate biological invasions which may cause marked changes to ES. We review the roles that alien plants play in providing urban ES and ecosystem disservices (EDS) globally. We identify the main ES and EDS associated with alien plants, and highlight the key species involved. A literature search revealed 335 papers, representing studies in 58 cities or urban areas in 27 countries. These studies recorded 337 alien plant species, contributing to 39 different ES and 27 EDS-310 species were recorded as contributing to ES and 53 species to EDS. A small number of alien plant taxa were frequently recorded as providing multiple ES in many urban ecosystems; the 10 most recorded species accounted for 21% of the ES recorded. Some of these species also result in significant EDS; three species accounted for 30% of the EDS recorded. Cultural services (notably aesthetics) are the most reported ES provided by alien plants in urban areas of developed countries, while provisioning services (notably food production) are most reported in developing countries. The most commonly studied EDS provided by alien plants is the impact on human health (notably allergic reactions). Eighty percent of studies on alien plants and ES and EDS have been done in developed countries. To elucidate the full range of effects of alien plants, more work is needed in developing countries. Urban planners and managers need to be mindful of both the positive and negative impacts of alien plant species to maximise the provision of ES.


Related Articles

  • Review on Invasive Tree of Heaven ( Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle) Conflicting Values: Assessment of Its Ecosystem Services and Potential Biological Threat. Sladonja, Barbara; Sušek, Marta; Guillermic, Julia // Environmental Management;Oct2015, Vol. 56 Issue 4, p1009 

    Globally, invasions by alien plants are rapidly increasing in extent and severity, leading to large-scale ecosystem degradation. One of the most widespread invasive alien plant species in Europe and North America, Tree of Heaven ( Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle) was introduced intentionally...

  • The behaviour of Ailanthus altissima weed and its effects on natural ecosystems. Fotiadis, G.; Kyriazopoulos, A. P.; Fraggakis, I. // Journal of Environmental Biology;Nov2011, Vol. 32 Issue 6, p801 

    Ailanthus altissima is an invasive species for the native flora of Greece and it could pose a serious threat to the biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the spreading of Ailanthus altissima in urban and non urban areas of North and Central...

  • The ecological niche and reciprocal prediction of the disjunct distribution of an invasive species: the example of Ailanthus altissima. Albright, Thomas; Chen, Hao; Chen, Lijun; Guo, Qinfeng // Biological Invasions;Aug2010, Vol. 12 Issue 8, p2413 

    Knowledge of the ecological niches of invasive species in native and introduced ranges can inform management as well as ecological and evolutionary theory. Here, we identified and compared factors associated with the distribution of an invasive tree, Ailanthus altissima, in both its native...

  • A multi-scale approach to identify invasion drivers and invaders' future dynamics. Cabra-Rivas, Isabel; Saldaña, Asunción; Castro-Díez, Pilar; Gallien, Laure // Biological Invasions;Feb2016, Vol. 18 Issue 2, p411 

    Climate, land use and disturbances are well known drivers of invasion. However, their relative influence may change across spatial scales, where climate is expected to be the main filter at broad scales; land use is expected to have more influence at intermediate scales, and disturbance, at fine...

  • Applied urban ecology for sustainable urban environment. Breuste, Jürgen; Qureshi, Salman; Li, Junxiang // Urban Ecosystems;Dec2013, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p675 

    An introduction to the journal is presented in which the authors discuss various papers within the issue on topics including urban ecosystem services, conservation of urban biodiversity, and interactions between urban environment and urban culture.

  • Distribution and Changes in Abundance of Ailanthus altissima (Miller) Swingle in a Southwest Ohio Woodlot. Espenschied-Reilly, Amanda L.; Runkle, James R. // Ohio Journal of Science;Apr2008, Vol. 108 Issue 2, p17 

    This study describes the population structure and dynamics of Ailanthus altissima within the Wright State University woodlot near Dayton, Ohio. This 80 ha woodlot contains both old growth and secondary stands. Ailanthus altissima populations were measured first in 1980 and again in 2001 and...

  • tree of heaven:. Schlegel, Rolf H. J. // Encyclopedic Dictionary of Plant Breeding & Related Subjects;2003, p493 

    An encyclopedia entry for "tree of heaven," which is the common term for the plant Ailanthus glandulosa, is presented.

  • Levels of antioxidants in rural and urban birds and their consequences. Møller, Anders Pape; Erritzøe, Johannes; Karadas, Filiz // Oecologia;May2010, Vol. 163 Issue 1, p35 

    Numerous animals have successfully invaded urban habitats, although the factors associated with invasion success remain poorly understood. Urban areas are characterized by warmer microclimates, higher levels of primary productivity, longer breeding seasons and higher levels of pollutants. All...

  • Characteristics and habitats of non-native plant species in the city of Chonju, southern Korea. Zerbe, Stefan; Choi, Il-Ki; Kowarik, Ingo // Ecological Research;Jan2004, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p91 

    Investigations on non-native organisms have become an important task of modern ecology throughout the world. The major objective of this study was to identify the characteristics and habitats of non-native plant species in Korean cities in order to derive conclusions on the success of biological...

  • Development of a Concept for Non-monetary Assessment of Urban Ecosystem Services at the Site Level. Wurster, Daniel; Artmann, Martina // AMBIO - A Journal of the Human Environment;May2014, Vol. 43 Issue 4, p454 

    Determining the performance of ecosystem services at the city or regional level cannot accurately take into account the fine differences between green or gray structures. The supply of regulating ecosystem services in, for instance, parks can differ as parks vary in their land cover composition....


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics