When landscaping goes bad: The incipient invasion of Mahonia bealei in the southeastern United States

Craig R. Allen, Ahjond S. Garmestani, Jill A. LaBram, Amanda E. Peck, Luanna B. Prevost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Woodlots are forest islands embedded within an urban matrix, and often represent the only natural areas remaining in suburban areas. Woodlots represent critical conservation areas for native plants, and are important habitat for wildlife in urban areas. Invasion by non-indigenous (NIS) plants can alter ecological structure and function, and may be especially severe in remnant forests where NIS propagule pressure is high. Woody shrubs in the Family Berberidaceae have been well documented as invaders of the forest-urban matrix in North America. Mahonia bealei (Berberidaceae) is a clonal shrub native to China, and is a popular ornamental in the Southeastern United States. Mahoni bealei is listed as "present" on some local and state floras, but almost nothing is known regarding its invasion potential in the United States. We sampled 15 woodlots in Clemson, South Carolina, to assess the invasion of M. bealei and other woody non-indigenous species (NIS). M. bealei invaded 87% of the woodlots surveyed and species richness of NIS on these woodlots varied from 5 to 14. Stepwise-multiple regression indicated that less canopy cover and older M. bealei predicted greater abundance of M. bealei , and that not all subdivisions were equally invaded (P < 0.0001; r 2 = 0.88). The impact of M. bealei on native flora and fauna may be considerable, and it is likely to continue to spread in the Southeastern United States. M. bealei should be recognized as an aggressive invader in the Southeastern United States, with the potential for negative impacts on native flora and fauna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Horticulture
  • Landscaping
  • Mahonia bealei
  • Non-indigenous species
  • Ornamentals
  • Woodlots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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