Non-native species in the vascular flora of highlands and mountains of Iceland

Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Akureyri, Iceland
Subject Areas
Biodiversity, Biogeography, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Plant Science
alien flora, Iceland, highland, Arctic, invasive species, mountain flora, tourism
© 2015 Wasowicz
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ PrePrints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Cite this article
Wasowicz P. 2015. Non-native species in the vascular flora of highlands and mountains of Iceland. PeerJ PrePrints 3:e1165v3


The highlands and mountains of Iceland, defined here as areas located above 400 m above sea level (m.a.s.l.) are one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Europe. The present study was aimed to provide the first comprehensive and up-to-date data on non-native plant species from this region. The study was aimed to answer the following questions: (1) How many non-native vascular plant species inhabit highland and mountainous environments in Iceland? (2) Do temporal trends in alien species immigration to Iceland and highland areas differ? (3) Do human disturbed and undisturbed areas within Icelandic highlands differ in terms of alien species occurrence? (4) Is spread within the highland areas a second step in alien plant colonization? and (5) Can we point out hot-spots in the distribution of non native taxa within highlands? Overall, 16 non-native vascular plant species were detected, including 11 casuals and 5 naturalized taxa (1 invasive). Results showed that temporal trends in alien species immigration to Iceland and to highland areas are similar, but it is clear that the process of colonization of highland areas is still in its initial phase. It was evidenced that non-native plants tend to occur close to man-made infrastructure and buildings including huts, shelters, road network etc. Analysis of spatio-temporal patterns showed that the spread within highland areas is a second step in non-native plant colonization in Iceland. Several statically significant hot spots of alien plant occurrences were be identified using Getis-Ord Gi* statistic and linked to human disturbance. This research suggests that human-mediated dispersal is the main driving force increasing the risk of invasion in Icelandic highlands and mountain areas.

Author Comment

Version 2 was submitted to PeerJ and major revisions were advised before acceptance. The current version of the paper was deeply revised and rewritten according to reviewers suggestions. New quantitative analyses were added including The Hot Spot Analysis (Getis-Ord Gi*) and statistical tools were used to test hypotheses formulated in the paper.

Supplemental Information

Supplemental Information 1

Climate diagrams for two highland (Sandbudir, Hveravellir) and two lowland (Reykjavik, Akureyri) meteorological stations. Data used to create diagrams were downloaded from (Icelandic Meteorological Office)

DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.1165v3/supp-1

Supplemental Information 2

CSV file containing plant distribution data used in the present study and describing their origin

DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.1165v3/supp-2