Are weeds hitchhiking a ride on your car? A systematic review of seed dispersal on cars
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When traveling in cars, we can unintentionally carry and disperse weed seed; but which species, and where are they a problem? To answer these questions, we systematically searched the scientific literature to identify all original research studies that assess seed transported by cars and listed the species with seed on/in cars. From the 13 studies that fit these criteria, we found 626 species from 75 families that have seed that can be dispersed by cars. Of these, 599 are listed as weeds in some part of the world, with 439 listed as invasive or naturalized alien species in one or more European countries, 248 are invasive/noxious weeds in North America, 370 are naturalized alien species in Australia, 167 are alien species in India, 77 are invasive species in China and 23 are declared weeds/ invaders in South Africa. One hundred and one are classified as internationally important environmental weeds. Although most (487) were only recorded once, some species such as Chenopodium album, Poa pratensis and Trifolium repens were common among studies. Perennial graminoids seem to be favoured over annual graminoids while annual forbs are favoured over perennial forbs. Species characteristics including seed size and morphology and where the plants grew affected the probability that their seed was transported by cars. Seeds can be found in many different places on cars including under the chassis, front and rear bumpers, wheel wells and rims, front and back mudguards, wheel arches, tyres and on interior floor mats. With increasing numbers of cars and expanding road networks in many regions, these results highlight the importance of cars as a dispersal mechanism, and how it may favour invasions by some species over others. Strategies to reduce the risk of seed dispersal by cars include reducing seed on cars by mowing road verges and cleaning cars.
Copyright 2013 Ansong et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCAL. (http://www.plos.org/journals/license.html)
Natural Resource Management