Potential plant invasions between eastern Asia and North America: Why should we be concerned?
ABSTRACT- The United States and China share much of the same range of climates. As a result, both nations have representative communities in major biomes, including tundra, temperate coniferous forest, temperate deciduous forest, steppe, desert and subtropical forest. The structure or physiognomy of communities in these biomes is also similar in the United States and China, which suggests but does not demonstrate that many species on the two continents may be playing functionally similar roles to each other in the capture of light and nutrients. Such similarity in functional roles and climates have often been identified as underlying the ability of species from one community to become established and even invasive in another (e.g. extent of naturalizations among Mediterranean communities worldwide). In other examples, a community on one continent supports a life form that is not represented in what is otherwise a similar community on another continent (e.g. the common prevalence of bamboos in coniferous forests in eastern Asia compared with the absence of native bamboos in coniferous forests in North America). Such previously absent life forms have on numerous occasions become invasive in a new range. The opportunity for the arrival of functionally equivalent species and those representing absent life forms in the native flora has rapidly increased with the surge in horticultural trade between China and the United States. Plant collecting for horticultural export is particularly intense in Yunnan, which itself encompasses much of the floristic and ecological diversity of China. Costs and benefits of these ongoing and proposed importations should be critically assessed and could involve experimental pre-release evaluations in both countries as a component of their national bio-security programs.
Key words: china, invasions, yunnan
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