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      Diversity of alien roadside herbs along an elevational gradient in western Mexico

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      NeoBiota

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Growing numbers of alien plant species threaten natural ecosystems worldwide. Mexico, as a megadiverse country, has lower numbers of alien species than other regions in America. However, there is a lack of information on the factors that determine the diversity patterns of alien species and their relative importance in the vegetation. The diversity of alien roadside herbs was analysed along an elevational gradient in western Mexico, including their relationship with environmental factors. Three hundred and seventeen herbaceous species were found in 37 sampling sites; 10% were aliens. The proportion of alien species in the ruderal herbaceous communities was lower than the average for this vegetation type in the country. Absolute species richness of natives was significantly and positively correlated with elevation. Absolute species richness of aliens was not significantly correlated with elevation, still; higher values were found at lower elevations. Generalised linear models for relative species richness and relative abundance of aliens with elevation had positive estimates near 0, which, though statistically significant, indicated a weak relationship. Other environmental co-factors, such as the distance to roads and highways, climatic variables, and disturbance indicators, were included in a random forest model. No clear correlation patterns were found. This seemingly random distribution of alien herbaceous plants in the region might be caused by the relatively recent introduction of most of the species. They have not yet had time to expand their distribution to their potential maximum. The early stage of the naturalisation process allows us to minimise the further spread of some species with targeted management and prevent them from becoming invasive.

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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                NeoBiota
                NB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2488
                1619-0033
                May 28 2021
                May 28 2021
                : 65
                : 71-91
                Article
                10.3897/neobiota.65.67192
                © 2021

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