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Invasive Plants in a CO2 Enriched and Recently Warmed World

Paper Reviewed
Thomas, C.D. and Palmer, G. 2015. Non-native plants add to the British flora without negative consequences for native diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112: 4387-4392.

Curious as to the recent impacts of so-called invasive plant species in their part of the world, Thomas and Palmer (2015) used extensive British Countryside Survey Data to study "changes to plant occurrence and cover of both native and non-native plants throughout Britain between 1990 and 2007." And in doing so, they found that the results obtained at the 479 investigated sites "have been dominated by native species," in that "total cover increases by native species are more than nine times greater than those by non-native species," implying that "factors other than plant 'invasions' are the key drivers of vegetation change."

The two UK researchers also found that "the diversity of native species is increasing in locations where the diversity of non-native species is increasing, suggesting that the high diversities of native and non-native plant species are compatible with one another." And, therefore, they go on to say that "the hypothesis that competitive exclusion will eventually enable introduced plants to drive native species extinct receives no support," according to their new analysis of the extensive British data. And they ultimately thus conclude that the "negative effects of non-native plants on British biodiversity have been exaggerated, and may also have been exaggerated in other parts of the world."

Posted 3 August 2015