Road edge effect and elevation patterns of native and alien plants on an oceanic island (Tenerife, Canary Islands)
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We studied road edge effects on floristic composition and richness of alien and native plants on five zonal ecosystems, following a steep altitudinal gradient from arid coastal and mid-elevation scrublands, through laurel and pine forests, to summit scrub, on Tenerife (Canary Islands). We analyzed vegetation within transects running from the road edge to the core of natural habitats. Alien richness significantly decreased with distance to road edge for most ecosystems. Native richness also decreased with increasing road distance for the coastal scrub and pine forest, but increased for the thermophilous scrub.We found a decrease in both native and alien species richness with elevation. Our results suggest that road edge effects in alien plant invasion are stronger in native shrub communities at low elevations than in forests (laurel and Canary Island pine forest), where aliens were limited to a narrow road edge band. Detrended correspondence analyses showed that road edge plots were floristically very different from interior plots and that each ecosystem harboured a specific alien assemblage with few species present in more than one ecosystem, suggesting a marked species turnover of roadside alien species across altitudinal belts up to the pine forest. However, at high elevations, very few aliens invaded roadsides, probably due to harsh environmental conditions and still relatively low propagule pressure.