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Open AccessArticle

Graminoid Invasion in an Insular Endemism Hotspot and Its Protected Areas

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Department of Biogeography, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
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Biogeography and Biodiversity Lab, Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe-University of Frankfurt, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Calle Barrial de Abajo Nº 13A, El Paso, La Palma, 38750 Canary Island, Spain
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Parque Nacional Caldera de Taburiente, La Palma, Canary Islands, Ctra. General Padrón 47, 38750 El Paso, Spain
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Disturbance Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
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Geoecology/Physical Geography, Institute for Environmental Science, University of Landau, Fortstr. 7, 76829 Landau, Germany
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Servicio de Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de La Palma, Avenida Los Indianos 20, Santa Cruz de La Palma, 38700 Canary Islands, Spain
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Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC), Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3, La Laguna, Tenerife, 38206 Canary Islands, Spain
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(10), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11100192
Received: 13 September 2019 / Revised: 7 October 2019 / Accepted: 9 October 2019 / Published: 14 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Invasive Species and Climate Change on Plant Biodiversity)
Invasive plant species are increasingly altering species composition and the functioning of ecosystems from a local to a global scale. The grass species Pennisetum setaceum has recently raised concerns as an invader on different archipelagos worldwide. Among these affected archipelagos are the Canary Islands, which are a hotspot of endemism. Consequently, conservation managers and stakeholders are interested in the potential spreading of this species in the archipelago. We identify the current extent of the suitable habitat for P. setaceum on the island of La Palma to assess how it affects island ecosystems, protected areas (PAs), and endemic plant species richness. We recorded in situ occurrences of P. setaceum from 2010 to 2018 and compiled additional ones from databases at a 500 m × 500 m resolution. To assess the current suitable habitat and possible distribution patterns of P. setaceum on the island, we built an ensemble model. We projected habitat suitability for island ecosystems and PAs and identified risks for total as well as endemic plant species richness. The suitable habitat for P. setaceum is calculated to cover 34.7% of the surface of La Palma. In open ecosystems at low to mid elevations, where native ecosystems are already under pressure by land use and human activities, the spread of the invader will likely lead to additional threats to endemic plant species. Forest ecosystems (e.g., broadleaved evergreen and coniferous forests) are not likely to be affected by the spread of P. setaceum because of its heliophilous nature. Our projection of suitable habitat of P. setaceum within ecosystems and PAs on La Palma supports conservationists and policymakers in prioritizing management and control measures and acts as an example for the potential threat of this graminoid invader on other islands. View Full-Text
Keywords: alien; biodiversity; African fountain grass; non-native; Pennisetum setaceum; species distribution modeling; invasibility; exotic; invasive; endemism alien; biodiversity; African fountain grass; non-native; Pennisetum setaceum; species distribution modeling; invasibility; exotic; invasive; endemism
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Walentowitz, A.J.; Irl, S.D.H.; Acevedo Rodríguez, A.J.; Palomares-Martínez, Á.; Vetter, V.; Zennaro, B.; Medina, F.M.; Beierkuhnlein, C. Graminoid Invasion in an Insular Endemism Hotspot and Its Protected Areas. Diversity 2019, 11, 192.

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