The Carpathian Mountains, one of the most biodiverse regions in Europe, are increasingly threatened by multiple invasion. We want to understand the drivers of this invasion to propose better management.
The Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains are home to Europe’s last great wilderness areas and to the greatest remaining old-growth and virgin forests. Pristine habitats at higher elevations, including old-growth forests, are however experiencing increased levels of invasion by alien plant species established for over a century in the adjacent lowlands. Under climate change, flooding is projected to become more frequent in the Carpathians, while increasing pressures from forestry and tourism are altering habitats, including in protected areas. Funded by a BES Large Grant, we have jumpstarted a long-term monitoring project to understand what drives successful multiple invasion, in particular how demographic traits (dispersal, reproduction, growth), and interactions among invaders and native species may affect establishment of invaders under global change.
We are establishing systematic monitoring of local patch dynamics of invaders, where we survey the number of recruits and density (i.e., number and canopy cover) of adults of invaders and native woody and herbaceous plants in 140 plots. The plots are located in sites where high invasion potential (network of rivers and roads, proximity to human settlements, and nearby established population of invaders) meets high biodiversity (a high proportion of old-growth forests and meadows of conservation value; within or in close proximity to protected areas); and invasion is therefore likely to have particularly negative impacts.
The plots are in two different habitat types, meadow or forest, either along riparian corridors or outside these corridors.
UPDATE: We were lucky to secure a PhD student in collaboration with the University of Sheffield to lead the monitoring and analyses for the next 3-4 years.
This summer (2022), we will systematically survey occurrence of invaders in the entire study area. We will follow all major roads and rivers (ca. 8000 km) and record the presence/absence of any of the nine target species-
We also aim to integrate our survey into the MIREN database using their mountain road survey protocol.
Due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, causing great human suffering, our project will no ahead as scheduled, and the bulk of the work will be postponed to 2023. Although the Carpathian Mountains are not direct targets of attacks, most people there, including my collaborators from Danube Carpathian Programme, are largely focusing on humanitarian work.
If you like to support the Danube Carpathian Programme, please consider a donation.