Invasions by alien plant species of the agro-pastoral ecotone in northern China: Species-specific and environmental determinants

Chao Chen, Ding Huang, Qinghai Wang, Juying Wu, Kun Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


The establishment, reproduction, dispersal, and distribution of alien plants are affected by various factors during the transition from being newly introduced in a habitat to being invasive. In the agro-pastoral ecotone of northern China, comprising farmlands and natural grasslands, the biological characteristics of alien plant species were the key intrinsic factors (propagation characteristics and competitive ability), followed by such extrinsic factors as human interference and environmental heterogeneity. Among biological characteristics, the life form may be an important and useful indicator of the invasive ability of a species, and the risk of invasion is greater from alien species that are poisonous, inedible, and have traits that facilitate wide dispersal. Farmlands may serve as initial shelters for alien species, from which they spread into neighbouring habitats, whereas natural grassland may act as a barrier to plant invasions. Management practices detrimental to grasslands, including overgrazing, reclamation, and road construction, often facilitate the invasions; therefore, counter measures such as reseeding and a ban on grazing need special attention. Environmental factors including precipitation, nutrients, prevailing winds, fires, and topography may be other factors that promote or block the process of invasion. In studying ways of preventing or controlling such invasions, alien plants with short life cycle, prolific seed production, and strong competitiveness, deserve particular attention and so do human activities that may damage the environment and fragile habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Early online date21 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alien plant species
  • Biological invasions
  • Grassland restoration
  • Life form
  • Overgrazing
  • Prevailing wind


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