Invasion by Fallopia spp. in a French upland region is related to anthropogenic disturbances
Within Europe, mountain ecosystems are generally less invaded by exotic plant species than are lowland areas. This pattern is commonly attributed to climatic harshness, which limits invasive species presence, and higher propagule pressure and rates of disturbance in lowlands, which favours dissemination. However, the extent to which anthropogenic and natural disturbances contribute to invasive species presence in mountain and lowland environments remains unclear. We conducted field observations in a lowland and an upland region in France and measured environmental variables, estimated the natural and anthropogenic disturbance of plots invaded by Fallopia spp. and compared them to non-invaded plots. Based on generalised linear mixed models, the predictors of Fallopia spp. presence in the upland area only included anthropogenic elements such as the presence of a road or trail and frequentation by humans, whereas both anthropogenic parameters and natural components (light penetration, slope, presence of a road and of a watercourse) were retained as predictors for the lowland region. We calculated the odds of Fallopia spp. presence for the increase of one unit of each predictor. We conclude that the spread of Fallopia spp. in upland areas was mainly linked to human activity whereas dissemination of the species occurred both through humans and in natural ways in lowland areas, and this may be due to a more recent colonisation in the mountains. We therefore advise stakeholders to undertake actions in mountain areas to specifically limit the dissemination of exotic species by humans and to monitor areas of high invasion risk by exotic species, such as areas neighbouring trails and roads highly frequented by humans.