ADHIKARI Ananda, SUBEDI Adarsha, TIWARI Achyut, SHRESTHA Bharat Babu. 2024: Impacts of road on plant invasions in the Middle Mountain region of central Nepal. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(2): 619-632. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8064-z
Citation: ADHIKARI Ananda, SUBEDI Adarsha, TIWARI Achyut, SHRESTHA Bharat Babu. 2024: Impacts of road on plant invasions in the Middle Mountain region of central Nepal. Journal of Mountain Science, 21(2): 619-632. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-023-8064-z

Impacts of road on plant invasions in the Middle Mountain region of central Nepal

  • Biological invasion is triggered by human development activities such as the construction and expansion of road networks. Road verges serve as important habitats and corridors for the distribution of invasive alien plant species (IAPS) between geographically distant habitats. However, the trajectory of plant invasion and the data regarding the impact of roads on IAPS distribution are relatively poor in Nepal. Here, we surveyed two road types (main roads and feeder road) in the Middle Mountain region of central Nepal in order to investigate how different road types are driving the dispersal of IAPS along road verges and the adjacent natural habitats. Systematic sampling was conducted at ca 2.5 km intervals along the roads. At each sampling site, paired plots (25 m × 4 m) were sampled: one adjacent to and along the road, and another 20 m away and parallel to it in the interior habitat. Our results revealed that the main road verges had a higher cover (33%) and a larger number of IAPS (14 species) than the feeder road (25%; 10 species). The IAPS cover and richness were significantly higher along verges than in the adjacent interior habitats for both road types, indicating that roads are contributing as corridors for the dispersal of IAPS in the Middle Mountain areas of central Nepal. Further, elevation, tree canopy, and disturbances (grazing/mowing/trampling) were found to be the key factors that determine spatial distribution of IAPS along road verges. We emphasize that regular monitoring of vegetation along the road verges can help with the early detection and control of potential IAPS in the region before they become problematic.
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