Fernandes, P., Máguas, C., Correia, O. & González-Moreno, P. (2018) What drives Eucalyptus globulus natural establishment outside plantations? The relative importance of climate, propagule pressure, and site characteristics.
Eucalyptus globulus has great economic importance in the Iberian Peninsula and is now the most widespread tree species on the Portuguese mainland. We aimed to evaluate the establishment capacity of E. globulus from plantations into natural habitats and to understand its association with the climate, plantation characteristics and host site characteristics. We surveyed 50 E. globulus plantations across Portugal looking at the natural establishment (occurrence and density) of E. globulus in habitats adjacent to plantations. Eucalypts presence was only recorded in 8% of the plots. Site characteristics (such as habitat type, vegetation cover and disturbance) were the most important variables influencing the natural recruitment of E. globulus in comparison to climate or plantation variables. Forest and grassland were the most resistant habitats to eucalyptus invasion while highly disturbed areas can be considered hubs for eucalypt density. The high importance of site characteristics reflects that most of the variability in eucalypt establishment occurs at small spatial scales. Thus, monitoring and management efforts should focus on those sites with higher establishment probability (i.e. open areas) trying to promote native vegetation and reduce disturbance levels.