Understanding the influence of urbanization on invasibility: Carpobrotus edulis as an exemplar

Yaiza Lechuga-Lago*, Ana Novoa, Johannes J. Le Roux, Luís González

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal dune areas are valuable ecosystems, generally impacted by habitat destruction and invasive alien species. In this study, we assessed how human disturbance and invasion by Carpobrotus edulis impact the soils and the establishment of native flora in the north-western coastal regions of Spain. We compared soil characteristics (pH, conductivity, water content, nutrients and enzymatic activities) and native plant as well as C. edulis fitness correlates (germination and early growth) between uninvaded and invaded soils from urban and natural coastal dune areas. We found that human disturbance impacts coastal soils by increasing organic matter and water content, modifying soil nutrients and cycles, and reducing the pH in urban soils. The presence of invasive C. edulis further increases these impacts. These changes in soil characteristics allow for the establishment of the native, but ruderal, Scolymus hispanicus and non-native C. edulis, both of which are not adapted to the typically limiting conditions of coastal dunes. In some instances, the coastal dune endemic, Malcolmia littorea, showed no fitness effects in response to urbanization or the presence of C. edulis. These results suggest that human disturbed coastal areas might be more easily invaded than natural areas. More broadly, our findings of differential responses of different native species to disturbance and invasion, illustrate the need for multi-taxon approaches when assessing the impacts of invasive species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3601-3611
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • enzymatic activities
  • ecological impacts
  • germination
  • invasive species
  • nutrients
  • urban areas


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