Invaders lurking in our gardens

Evaluating the naturalization risk of ornamental garden plants

Data resources used via GBIF : 835,036 species occurrences

Garden by llee_wu. Photo licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Ornamental plants may escape our gardens and become naturalized invaders. This invasion risk may increase as changing climates provide more suitable habitat. This paper evaluates the current naturalization risk from garden plants in Europe and explores how a warmer climate might affect it. Using GBIF-mediated occurrences of all species naturalized anywhere in the world but Europe, the researchers model potential European distributions today and under future climate scenarios. Out of more than 700 species investigated, current models showed that about a quarter would find suitable habitat. Under the most severe climate change scenario, invasion hotspots (supporting more than ten per cent of the potential invaders) are predicted to double in area by the end of the century. The authors recommend raising awareness of plant invasions among gardening and ornamental trade communities, especially considering how the internet has removed any limitations on availability of plants for interested customers.

Dullinger I, Wessely J, Bossdorf O, Dawson W, Essl F, Gattringer A, Klonner G, Kreft H, Kuttner M, Moser D, Pergl J, Pyšek P, Thuiller W, van Kleunen M, Weigelt P, Winter M and Dullinger S (2016) Climate change will increase the naturalization risk from garden plants in Europe. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Wiley-Blackwell 26(1): 43–53. Available at doi:10.1111/geb.12512.