Non-indigenous plant species in Central European forest ecosystems
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In the study presented here, the occurrence of non-indigenous vascular plant species in Central European forest ecosystems is outlined with regard to the current state and future perspectives. A focus is laid on Germany. This analysis is based on numerous ecological investigations on the species and ecosystem level. In total, 29 non-indigenous woody and 25 non-indigenous herb species are recorded within forest stands. Generally, there are much less exotic species, which grow on forest sites compared to habitats more or less strongly altered by human impact like, for example, agricultural and urban-industrial ecosystems. Most of the exotic species found in forests belong to the plant families Rosaceae, Pinaceae, and Asteraceae and have their origin in North America. A wide range of different natural and anthropogenic forest communities are invaded by non-indigenous plants, such as floodplain forests, mixed broad-leaved and conifer forests on nutrient-poor to nutrient-rich sites, and dry oak forests. The establishment of nonindigenous species in forests can affect the ecosystem considerably. This is shown, for instance, for the tree species Robinia pseudoacacia(alteration of the soil conditions) and Prunus serotina(influence on forest regeneration) and the herbs of the genus Fallopia(decrease of species richness on a local scale). Few nonindigenous species in forests, like for example Prunus serotina, can cause problems with regard to land use on a supra-regional scale. In conclusion, the management of non-indigenous species in forests on a local scale, in accordance with regional nature conservation objectives and considering socio-economic aspects might be useful. However, an assessment of a positive or negative impact of non-indigenous species on forest ecosystems has to be based on properly defined values.