Invasion of a mined landscape: what habitat characteristics are influencing the occurrence of invasive plants?
Throughout the world, the invasion of alien plants is an increasing threat to native biodiversity. Invasion is especially prevalent in areas affected by land transformation and anthropogenic disturbance. Surface mines are a major disturbance, and thus may promote the establishment and expansion of invasive plant communities. Environmental and habitat factors that may contribute to favourable conditions for heightened plant invasion were examined using the Shale Hills region (SHR) of Alabama as a case study. Overall the invasive community was predominantly associated with forest structure and composition. At an individual species level, forest structure and composition also dominated models; however, soil characteristics were also integrated. The influence of planting alien, invasive species in this area is likely the major driver of the high diversity of invasive plants, with three of the six dominant species being planted. Adjusting the reclamation plantings to native species would aid in reducing the number and diversity of invasive plants. Overall, it appears that the initial reclamation efforts, apart from the planting of alien species, are not the major driver impacting the invasive plant composition of the reclaimed, now forested mine sites.