Protected-area boundaries as filters of plant invasions
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Human land uses surrounding protected areas provide propagules for colonization of these areas by non-native species, and corridors between protected-area networks and drainage systems of rivers provide pathways for long-distance dispersal of non-native species. Nevertheless, the influence of protected area boundaries on colonization of protected areas by invasive non-native species is unknown. We drew on a spatially explicit data set of more than 27,000 non-native plant presence records for South Africa’s Kruger National Park to examine the role of boundaries in preventing colonization of protected areas by non-native species. The number of records of non-native invasive plants declined rapidly beyond 1500 m inside the park; thus, we believe that the park boundary limited the spread of non-native plants. The number of non-native invasive plants inside the park was a function of the amount of water runoff, density of major roads, and the presence of natural vegetation outside the park. Of the types of human-induced disturbance, only the density of major roads outside the protected area significantly increased the number of non-native plant records. Our findings suggest that the probability of incursion of invasive plants into protected areas can be quantified reliably.