Understanding the ecological determinants of biological invasions is a key issue for predicting the spread of exotic species over broad geographical extents. The goal of this study was to investigate independent and combined effects of climatic and human-related factors on native and exotic plant species richness in Great Britain. We used multiple and partial regression techniques and spatial methods to investigate the effect of these variables on species richness. The highest plant richness was found in southeastern Great Britain and the lowest in the North for both native and exotic species. We found that energy input was the best predictor of either native or exotic plant richness, followed by water availability. Richness increased linearly with energy input for native plants, but exponentially for exotics. This is probably due to the lower chances of exotic species to succeed in low-energy sites, and/or to the lower species saturation of more productive ecosystems. The low portion of richness variance explained by human footprint was probably due to the study scale and to the overlapping between climatic and human factors. We conclude that the environment-human models are robust to enhance our understanding of the factors controlling the distribution of exotic species. Models containing water-energy measures can be a key component for explaining the broad-scale patterns of exotic species.
- Latitudinal gradients
- Spatial patterns
- Water-energy hypothesis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation