Skip to main content Accessibility help

The effect of anthropogenic disturbance on non-native plant species in Madagascar

  • A. Andrea Gudiel (a1), Shane C. Nieves (a2), Kim E. Reuter (a1) and Brent J. Sewall (a1)


Non-native species impact tropical ecosystems, but the role of different anthropogenic disturbances on the success of non-natives remains unclear, especially in island tropical forests. We sought to understand the influence of anthropogenic habitat degradation and disturbance on non-native plant species in Madagascar. Specifically, we evaluated how densities of non-native species of woody shrub (Lantana camara), climber (Mucuna pruriens) and tree (Mangifera indica, Albizia lebbeck, Tamarindus indica) varied with forest habitat degradation and by disturbance type. We surveyed 60400 m2, recording 482 instances of disturbance and 903 non-native plants in and around the Ankarana National Park. Non-native plant densities were higher in degraded than primary forest. Within degraded forest, densities of non-native trees increased with disturbance. Tree densities correlated with extent of tree damage only in Tamarindus indica, never correlated with extent of tree removal, and always correlated with proximity to roads and trails. Our results suggest roads and trails have relatively greater importance in facilitating the success of non-native tree species than structural changes to habitat. In contrast, densities of Lantana camara and Tamarindus indica did not correlate with any measured type of disturbance; other unmeasured or historical factors may be more important drivers of these smaller, faster-reproducing species.


Corresponding author

1 Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
AKAIKE, H. 1973. Information theory and an extension of the maximum likelihood principle. Pp. 267281 in Petrov, B. N. & Csaki, F. (eds.). International Symposium on Information Theory. Akadémia Kiadó, Budapest.
ALSTON, K. P. & RICHARDSON, D. M. 2006. The roles of habitat features, disturbance, and distance from putative source populations in structuring alien plant invasions at the urban/wildland interface on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Biological Conservation 132:183198.
ARÉVALO, J. R., OTTO, R., ESCUDERO, C., FERNÁNDEZ-LUGO, S., ARTEAGO, M., DELGADO, J. D. & FERNÁNDEZ-PALACIOS, J. M. 2010. Do anthropogenic corridors homogenize plant communities at a local scale? A case studied in Tenerife (Canary Islands). Plant Ecology 209:2335.
BEAUJARD, P. 2011. The first migrants to Madagascar and their introduction of plants: linguistic and ethnological evidence. Azania – Archaeological Research in Africa 46:169189.
BINGGELI, P. 2003. Introduced and invasive plants. Pp. 257268 in Goodman, S. M. & Benstead, J. P. (eds.). The natural history of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
BROWN, K. A. & GUREVITCH, J. 2004. Long-term impacts of logging on forest diversity in Madagascar. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 101:60456049.
BURNHAM, K. P. & ANDERSON, D. R. 2002. Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer Science & Business Media, New York. 488 pp.
CARDIFF, S. & BEFOUROUACK, J. 2003. The Réserve Spéciale d'Ankarana. Pp. 15011507 in Goodman, S. M. & Benstead, J. P. (eds.). The natural history of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
CLAVERO, M. & GARCÍA-BERTHOU, E. 2005. Invasive species are a leading cause of animal extinctions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20:110.
DENSLOW, J. S. 2003. Weeds in paradise: thoughts on the invasibility of tropical islands. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 90:119127.
DUKE, J. 2012. Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. Springer Science & Business Media, New York. 346 pp.
EL-SIDDIG, K., GUNASENA, H. P. M., PRASAD, B. A., PUSHPAKUMARA, D. K. N. G., RAMANA, K. V. R., VIJAYANAND, P. & WILLIAMS, J. T. 2006. Tamarind, Tamarindus indica. Southampton Centre for Underutilised Crops, Southampton. 30 pp.
ERVIN, G., SMOTHERS, M., HOLLY, C., ANDERSON, C. & LINVILLE, J. 2006. Relative importance of wetland type versus anthropogenic activities in determining site invasibility. Biological Invasions 8:14251432.
FINE, P. V. A. 2002. The invasibility of tropical forests by exotic plants. Journal of Tropical Ecology 18:687705.
FISHER, R. 1925. Statistical methods for research workers. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 239 pp.
FLORY, S. L. & CLAY, K. 2009. Effects of roads and forest successional age on experimental plant invasions. Biological Conservation 142:25312537.
FOURNIER, D. A., SKAUG, H. J., ANCHETA, J., IANELLI, J., MAGNUSSON, A., MAUNDER, M. N., NIELSEN, A. & SIBERT, J. 2012. AD Model Builder: using automatic differentiation for statistical inference of highly parameterized complex nonlinear models. Optimization Methods and Software 27:233249.
FREED, B. Z. 2012. Poster Abstract: Fallback food consumption and sympatry in Eulemur coronatus and Eulemur sanfordi. The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Available online:
GÉRARD, A., GANZHORN, J. U., KULL, C. A. & CARRIÈRE, S. M. 2015. Possible roles of introduced plants for native vertebrate conservation: the case of Madagascar. Restoration Ecology 23:768775.
GIBSON, L., LEE, T. M., KOH, L. P., BROOK, B. W., GARDNER, T. A., BARLOW, J., PERES, C. A., BRADSHAW, C. J. A., LAURANCE, W. F., LOVEJOY, T. E. & NAVJOT, S. S. 2011. Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature 478:378381.
GUREVITCH, J., FOX, G. A., WARDLE, G. M., INDERJIT, , & TAUB, D. 2011. Emergent insights from the synthesis of conceptual frameworks for biological invasions. Ecology Letters 14:407418.
HANSEN, M. J. & CLEVENGER, A. P. 2005. The influence of disturbance and habitat on the presence of non-native plant species along transport corridors. Biological Conservation 125:249259.
HARPER, J. L. & WHITE, J. 1974. The demography of plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 5:419463.
KAISER‐BUNBURY, C. N., VALENTIN, T., MOUGAL, J., MATATIKEN, D. & GHAZOUL, J. 2011. The tolerance of island plant–pollinator networks to alien plants. Journal of Ecology 99:202213.
KLASSEN, W., CODALLO, M., ZASADA, I. A. & ABUL-BAKI, A. A. 2006. Characterization of velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) lines for cover crop use. Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society 119:258262.
KULL, C. A, TASSIN, J., MOREAU, S., RAKOTO, R. H., BLANC-PAMARD, C. & CARRIÈRE, S. M. 2012. The introduced flora of Madagascar. Biological Invasions 14:875888.
KULL, C., TASSIN, J. & CARRIERE, S. 2014. Approaching invasive species in Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation and Development 9:6070.
LAMPARIELLO, L. R., CORTELAZZO, A., GUERRANTI, R., STICOZZI, C. & VALACCHI, G. 2012. The magic velvet bean of Mucuna pruriens . Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2:331339.
LIM, T. K. 2012. Mucuna pruriens . Pp. 779 in Lim, T. K. (ed.). Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants – fruits. Springer, Dordrecht.
MOLES, A. T., GRUBER, M. A. M. & BONSER, S. P. 2008. A new framework for predicting invasive plant species. Journal of Ecology 96:1317.
MORRIS, R. J. 2010. Anthropogenic impacts on tropical forest biodiversity: a network structure and ecosystem functioning perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences 365:37093718.
MYERS, N., MITTERMEIER, R. A., MITTERMEIER, C. G., DA FONSECA, G. A. B. & KENT, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853858.
PARROTTA, J. A. 1988. Early growth and yield of Albizia lebbeck at a coastal site in Puerto Rico. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Research Reports 6:4749.
PAUCHARD, A. & SHEA, K. 2006. Integrating the study of non-native plant invasions across spatial scales. Biological Invasions 8:399413.
POLLNAC, F., SEIPEL, T., REPATH, C. & REW, L. J. 2012. Plant invasion at landscape and local scales along roadways in the mountainous region of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Biological Invasions 14:17531763.
PRASAD, A. E. 2012. Landscape-scale relationships between the exotic invasive shrub Lantana camara and native plants in a tropical deciduous forest in southern India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28:5564.
RAMASWAMI, G. & SUKUMAR, R. 2014. Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) invasion along streams in a heterogeneous landscape. Journal of Biosciences 39:717726.
REUTER, K. E. 2015. Natural resource use in Madagascar. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Biology, Temple University.
SEIPEL, T., KUEFER, C., REW, L. J., DAEHLER, C. C., PAUCHARD, A., NAYLOR, B. J., ALEXANDER, J. M., EDWARDS, P. J., PARKS, C. G., AREVALO, J. R., CAVIERES, L. A., DIETZ, H., JAKOBS, G., MCDOUGALL, K., OTTO, R. & WALSH, N. 2012. Processes at multiple scales affect richness and similarity of non-native plant species in mountains around the world. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21:236246.
SPELLERBERG, I. F. 1998. Ecological effects of roads and traffic: a literature review. Global Ecology and Biogeography 7:317333.
THEOHARIDES, K. A. & DUKES, J. S. 2007. Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New Phytologist 176:256273.
THUILLER, W., RICHARDSON, D. M., ROUGET, M., PROCHES, S. & WILSON, J. R. U. 2006. Interactions between environment, species traits, and human uses describe patterns of plant invasions. Ecology 87:17551769.
VARDIEN, W., RICHARDSON, D. M., FOXCROFT, L. C., THOMPSON, G. D., WILSON, J. R. U. & LE ROUX, J. J. 2012. Invasion dynamics of Lantana camara L. (sensu lato) in South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 81:8194.
WALSH, J. C., VENTER, O., WATSON, J. E. M., FULLER, R. A., BLACKBURN, T. M. & POSSINGHAM, H. P. 2012. Exotic species richness and native species endemism increase the impact of exotic species on islands. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21:841850.
WILSON, G., DESAI, A. A., SIM, D. A., GRUBER, M. A. M. & LESTER, P. J. 2014. The association between invasive Lantana camara and seedlings/saplings of a plant community in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 30:551563.
ZUUR, A., IENO, E. N., WALKER, N., SAVELIEV, A. A. & SMITH, G.M. 2009. Mixed effects models and extensions in ecology with R. Springer, New York. 579 pp.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The effect of anthropogenic disturbance on non-native plant species in Madagascar

  • A. Andrea Gudiel (a1), Shane C. Nieves (a2), Kim E. Reuter (a1) and Brent J. Sewall (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.