The successful colonization of new environments by alien plant species highly depends on local environmental conditions. In this recent paper by Charly Géron and colleagues, we were able to prove that climatic conditions in a species’ native range plays a major role in understanding if the species is or is not restricted to urban areas in invaded regions.

The tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) thrives in urban Belgium

By using native range estimates and species observations in invaded areas (both largely citizen science-based), we found that alien plant species that occur in more urban environments originated from warmer or drier native climates than the one currently found in oceanic Europe. Therefore, microclimatic barriers might be the reason why some alien plant species thrive in urban areas, while others prefer rural environments. However, with global changes such as urbanization and climate warming, the barriers that currently constrain numerous alien plant species to cities may be lifted. The resulting increase in species invasions around cities potentially threatens surrounding native biota.

Read the full article here