Background: Biogeographic patterns of species invasions hold important clues to solving the recalcitrant 'who', 'where', and 'why' questions of invasion biology, but the few existing studies make no attempt to distinguish alien floras (all non-native occurrences) from invasive floras (rapidly spreading species of significant management concern), nor have invasion biologists asked whether particular habitats are consistently invaded by species from particular regions. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here I describe the native floristic provenances of the 2629 alien plant taxa of the Eastern Deciduous Forest of the Eastern U.S. (EUS), and contrast these to the subset of 449 taxa that EUS management agencies have labeled 'invasive'. Although EUS alien plants come from all global floristic regions, nearly half (45%) have native ranges that include central and northern Europe or the Mediterranean (39%). In contrast, EUS invasive species are most likely to come from East Asia (29%), a pattern that is magnified when the invasive pool is restricted to species that are native to a single floristic region (25% from East Asia, compared to only 11% from northern/ central Europe and 2% from the Mediterranean). Moreover, East Asian invaders are mostly woody (56%, compared to just 23% of the total alien flora) and are significantly more likely to invade intact forests and riparian areas than European species, which dominate managed or disturbed ecosystems. Conclusions/Significance: These patterns suggest that the often-invoked 'imperialist dogma' view of global invasions equating invasion events with the spread of European colonialism is at best a restricted framework for invasion in disturbed ecosystems. This view must be superseded by a biogeographic invasion theory that is explicitly habitat-specific and can explain why particular world biotas tend to dominate particular environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)