Science of the Total Environment, 2020. Paper abstract bibtex
Knowledge of the species composition of invaded vegetation helps to evaluate an ecological impact of aliens and design an optimal management strategy. We link a new vegetation analysis of a large dataset to the invasion history, ecology and management of Robinia pseudoacacia stands across Southern Europe and provide a map illustrating Robinia distribution. Finally, we compare detected relationships with Central Europe. We show that regional differences in Robinia invasion, distribution, habitats and management are driven both by local natural conditions (climate and soil properties, low competitive ability with native trees) and socioeconomic factors (traditional land-use). Based on the classification of 467 phytosociological relevés we distinguished five broad vegetation types reflecting an oceanity−continentality gradient. The stands were heterogeneous and included 824 taxa, with only 5.8% occurring in more than 10% of samples, representing mainly hemerobic generalists of mesophilous, nutrient-rich and semi-shady habitats. The most common were dry ruderal stands invading human-made habitats. Among native communities, disturbed mesic and alluvial forests were often invaded throughout the area, while dry forests and scrub dominated in Balkan countries. Continuous, long-term and large-scale cultivation represent a crucial factor driving Robinia invasions in natural habitats. Its invasion should be mitigated by suitable management taking into account adjacent habitats and changing cultivation practices to select for native species. Robinia invasion has a comparable pattern in Central and Southern Europe, but there is a substantial difference in management and utilization causing heterogeneity of many South-European stands.