The distribution of range sizes of native and alien plants in four European countries and the effects of residence time

Mark Williamson, Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Ingolf Kühn, Mark Hill, Stefan Klotz, Ann Milbau, Jane Stout, Petr Pyšek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Do the statistical distributions of range sizes of native and alien species differ? If so, is this because of residence time effects? And can such effects indicate an average time to a maximum? Location: Ireland, Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic. Methods: The data are presence or absence of higher plants in mapping units of 100 km2 (Ireland and Britain) or c. 130 km2 (Germany and the Czech Republic) in areas varying from 79 to 357 thousand km2. Logit transforms of range sizes so defined were tested for normality, and examined by ANOVA, and by loess, ordinary least square (OLS) and reduced major axis regressions. Results: Current range sizes, in logits, are near normally distributed. Those of native plants are larger than those of naturalized neophytes (plants introduced since 1500 ad) and much larger than those of casual neophytes. Archaeophytes (introduced earlier) have range sizes slightly larger than natives, except in Ireland. Residence time, the time since an invasive species arrived in the wild at a certain place, affects range sizes. The relationships of the range of naturalized neophytes to residence time are effectively straight in all four places, showing no significant curvature or asymptote back to 1500, though there are few records between 1500 and 1800. The relationships have an r2of only about 10%. Both OLS regressions and reduced major axes can be used to estimate the time it takes for the range of a naturalized neophyte to reach a maximum. Main conclusions: Established neophytes have smaller range size distributions than natives probably because many have not yet reached their maximum. We estimate it takes at least 150 years, possibly twice that, on average, for the maximum to be reached in areas of the order of 105 km2. Policy needs to allow for the variation in rates of spread and particularly the long time needed to fill ranges. Most naturalized neophytes are still expanding their ranges in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeophytes
  • Biological invasions
  • Europe
  • Native plants
  • Neophyte spread
  • Range size
  • Residence time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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