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Open AccessArticle

Ecological Specialization and Rarity of Arable Weeds: Insights from a Comprehensive Survey in France

Laboratoire d’Écologie Alpine (LECA), Université Grenoble-Alpes, 2233 Rue de la Piscine, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
Anses, Laboratoire de la Santé des Végétaux, Unité Entomologie et Plantes Invasives, CBGP, 755 Avenue du Campus Agropolis, 34988 Montferrier-sur-Lez Cedex, France
FiBL, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
Agroécologie, AgroSup Dijon, INRAE, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 21000 Dijon, France
Centre de Synthèse et d’Analyse sur la Biodiversité - Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Département de Phytologie, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, CNRS & University La Rochelle, 79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France
LTSER Zone Atelier Plaine & Val de Sèvre, CNRS, F-79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France
INRAE GAFL UR 1052, Unité de Génétique et Amélioration des Fruits et Légumes, CS 60094, 84143 Montfavet Cedex, France
UMR 5175 Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, Univ. Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Univ. Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, 34293 Montpellier, France
Littoral Environnement et Sociétés, 2 rue Olympe de Gouges, 17 000 La Rochelle, France
Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK
USC Agripop, INRAE, Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, F-79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2020, 9(7), 824;
Received: 2 May 2020 / Revised: 24 June 2020 / Accepted: 26 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Management)
: The definition of “arable weeds” remains contentious. Although much attention has been devoted to specialized, segetal weeds, many taxa found in arable fields also commonly occur in other habitats. The extent to which adjacent habitats are favorable to the weed flora and act as potential sources of colonizers in arable fields remains unclear. In addition, weeds form assemblages with large spatiotemporal variability, so that many taxa in weed flora are rarely observed in plot-based surveys. We thus addressed the following questions: How often do weeds occur in other habitats than arable fields? How does including field edges extend the taxonomic and ecological diversity of weeds? How does the weed flora vary across surveys at different spatial and temporal scales? We built a comprehensive dataset of weed taxa in France by compiling weed flora, lists of specialized segetal weeds, and plot-based surveys in agricultural fields, with different spatial and temporal coverages. We informed life forms, biogeographical origins and conservation status of these weeds. We also defined a broader dataset of plants occupying open habitats in France and assessed habitat specialization of weeds and of other plant species absent from arable fields. Our results show that many arable weeds are frequently recorded in both arable fields and non-cultivated open habitats and are, on average, more generalist than species absent from arable fields. Surveys encompassing field edges included species also occurring in mesic grasslands and nitrophilous fringes, suggesting spill-over from surrounding habitats. A total of 71.5% of the French weed flora was not captured in plot-based surveys at regional and national scales, and many rare and declining taxa were of Mediterranean origin. This result underlines the importance of implementing conservation measures for specialist plant species that are particularly reliant on arable fields as a habitat, while also pointing out biotic homogenization of agricultural landscapes as a factor in the declining plant diversity of farmed landscapes. Our dataset provides a reference species pool for France, with associated ecological and biogeographical information.
Keywords: arable fields; species pool; specialization; open habitats; biodiversity decline; sampling strategies; life form arable fields; species pool; specialization; open habitats; biodiversity decline; sampling strategies; life form
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MDPI and ACS Style

Munoz, F.; Fried, G.; Armengot, L.; Bourgeois, B.; Bretagnolle, V.; Chadoeuf, J.; Mahaut, L.; Plumejeaud, C.; Storkey, J.; Violle, C.; Gaba, S. Ecological Specialization and Rarity of Arable Weeds: Insights from a Comprehensive Survey in France. Plants 2020, 9, 824.

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