Distribution and ecological range of the alien plant species Mikania micrantha Kunth (Asteraceae) in Taiwan
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In the past two decades Mikania micrantha Kunth, a climbing plant species originating from tropicalAmerica, has spread across Taiwan. It can now be found frequently in the lowlands and lower mountain areasup to 1,000 m a.s.l. in the centre and south of the island. Mikania micrantha is considered a problematic invasivealien plant species which is said to cause economical as well as environmental damage. This study investigatedthe ecological site characteristics of M. micrantha in Taiwan. 112 vegetation surveys were carried out in habitatswhere the alien plant was present. A comparison between sites with a high and a low abundance was carriedout in order to assess which factors especially influence the extensive spread of the plant. Furthermore, theinfluence of disturbances was examined. Results showed that Mikania micrantha grows very dense in habitatswhich are characterized by good light conditions combined with vertical structures, such as trees. Resultsrevealed that this invader occurs most frequently in agricultural fallows and wastelands, but it could hardly befound in the intensively managed plantations in the investigation area. Results provide great evidence that theplant is strongly influenced by disturbances, but only if impacts occur rarely.