Project in the picture

Community effects and responses of the invasive plant Impatiens glandulifera

In an increasingly globalized world, the number of alien plant species invading ecosystems continues to rise. One major concern is that invasive alien species will lead to significant changes in functioning of the invaded ecosystem. However, for many invasive species, basic understanding of both their invasibility and potential ecosystem effects remains limited. In this study we focus on several aspects of the highly invasive plant species Impatiens glandulifera, which was introduced to Europe from the Western Himalaya.


Although I. glandulifera has already invaded riparian habitats in Europe from southern Spain up to northern Norway, the species' current invaded range is still in full expansion. With this project we want to gain better insights in what conditions result in successful invasion by I. glandulifera and under what circumstances this invasion will alter native vegetation composition and ecosystem functioning. We hope that these new insights will help understand the invasion process and ecosystem effects of I. glandulifera specifically, and simultaneously also allow for a better understanding of invasive plant species dynamics and impacts in general.


This project focusses on several aspects of I. glandulifera's invasion and combines several processes to gain these insights. Both observational studies on natural populations along the invaded European gradient, as well as standardized greenhouse experiments are applied. The focus of the studies range from exploration of the invader's performance and vigor across different plant communities and climatic conditions, the invader's effects on litter decomposition and biomass production, as well as exploring both neutral and adaptive genetic patterns.


The project is coordinated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, by Bente J. Graae and Kenny Helsen in collaboration with the FLEUR network. Former project collaborators: Rozalia Kapas, Kamal P. Acharya, Nelson Mujuni, Jenny Hagenblad, Jennifer Hulskotter, Evelyne M. Elst, Ivan Nijs and Christophe Pelabon.