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European researchers create first database on the impacts of invasive plants in Europe

  • Researchers from CSIC participate in the creation of Plantimpactseurope, which includes information of 104 invasive species from 29 European countries
  • The database, freely accessible, is intended for academic, management and environmental policy purposes

A scientific team, with the participation of the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) and the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE-CSIC), has created the first database of field studies on the impact of invasive plants on native species, communities and ecosystems in Europe. Plantimpactseurope is the first harmonized open-access database on a continental scale and is based on data from 266 scientific publications describing the results of 4,259 field studies on 104 invasive species in 29 European countries. The work has been published in the journal NeoBiota.

Plantimpactseurope has information on invasive plants affecting other plants, animals and microbes. This information is displayed on the basis of all trophic levels (herbivores, parasites, plants, pollinators, predators, omnivores, decomposers and symbionts) and numerous ecosystem processes.

One third of the studies collected in Plantimpactseurope focus on five invasive species: Reynoutria japonica, Impatiens glandulifera, Solidago gigantea, Carpobrotus edulis and Robinia pseudoacacia. More than half of the work was carried out in temperate and boreal forests and in temperate grasslands. On the other hand, there are few studies in Baltic and Balkan countries, in desert and semi-arid shrublands, in subtropical forests and in high mountains.

"This database offers information on if invasive species increase, decrease or have a neutral effect on the ecological variable under study", says Montserrat Vilà, researcher at the Doñana Biological Station – CSIC and coordinator of the study. In this line, she highlights that Plantimpactseurope will guide research into the circumstances under which invasive species can cause serious impacts.

As new field studies on the ecological impacts of invasive species are published, the database will need to be updated. "We hope that there will be more studies on species that are still locally rare and with a restricted distribution," says Vilà.

This database is of interest for academic, management and environmental political purposes. It has been mainly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (SUMHAL, LIFEWATCH, POPE). Besides the EBD-CSIC and the IPE-CSIC, researchers from the University of Seville, the University of Alcalá and Freiburg University (Switzerland) have collaborated.


  • Montserrat Vilà, Alejandro Trillo, Pilar Castro-Díez, Belinda Gallardo, Sven Bacher. ?Field studies of the ecological impacts of invasive plants in EuropeNeoBiota. DOI: 10.3897/neobiota.90.112368


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