Case studies of the expansion of Acacia dealbata in the valley of the river Miño (Galicia, Spain)

  • Antonio Vazquez de la Cueva Departamento de Ecología y Genética Centro de Investigación Forestal CIFOR-INIA


Aim of study: Acacia dealbata is a naturalized tree of invasive behaviour that has expanded from small plots associated with vineyards into forest ecosystems. Our main objective is to find evidence to support the notion that disturbances, particularly forest fires, are important driving factors in the current expansion of A. dealbata.
Area of study: We mapped it current distribution using three study areas and assesses the temporal changes registered in forest cover in these areas of the valley of the river Miño.
Material and Methods: The analyses were based on visual interpretation of aerial photographs taken in 1985 and 2003 of three 1x1 km study areas and field works.
Main result: A 62.4%, 48.6% and 22.2% of the surface area was covered by A. dealbata in 2003 in pure or mixed stands. Furthermore, areas composed exclusively of A. dealbata make up 33.8%, 15.2% and 5.7% of the stands. The transition matrix analyses between the two dates support our hypothesis that the areas currently covered by A. dealbata make up a greater proportion of the forest area previously classified as unwooded or open forest than those without A. dealbata cover. Both of these surface types are the result of an important impact of fire in the region. Within each area, A. dealbata is mainly located on steeper terrain, which is more affected by fires.
Research highlights: A. dealbata is becoming the dominant tree species over large areas and the invasion of this species gives rise to monospecific stands, which may have important implications for future fire regimes.

Keywords: Fire regime; Mimosa; plant invasion; silver wattle.


Download data is not yet available.


Aguiar FC, Ferreira MT, Moreira I, 2001. Exotic and native vegetation establishment following channelization of a western Iberian river. Regulated Rivers-Research & Management 17(4-5): 509-526.

Bellot F, 1978. El tapiz vegetal de la Península Ibérica. Ed Blume, Madrid.

Blanco E, Casado MA, Costa M, Escribano R, García M, Génova M, Gómez G, Gómez F, Moreno JC, Morla C, Regato P, Sainz H, 1997. Los bosques ibéricos: una interpretación geobotánica. Ed Planeta, Barcelona, Spain.

Bond WJ, Keeley JE, 2005. Fire as a global "herbivore": the ecology and evolution of flammable ecosystems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20(7): 387-394.

Brooks ML, D'Antonio CM, Richardson DM, Grace JB, Keeley JE, DiTomaso JM, Hobbs RJ, Pellant M, Pyke D, 2004. Effects of invasive alien plants on fire regimes. BioScience 54(7): 677- 688.[0677:EOIAPO]2.0.CO;2

Burgan RE, Rothermel RC, 1984. BEHAVE: fire behavior prediction and fuel modeling system, FUEL Subsystem USDA, Forest Service, Gen Tech Rep INT-167, Ogden, UT.

Carballeira A, Reigosa MJ, 1999. Effects of natural leachates of Acacia dealbata Link in Galicia (NW Spain). Bot Bull Acad Sin 40: 87-92.

Casal JF, Reigosa MJ, Carballeira A, 1985. Potential allélopathique de Acacia dealbata Link. Rev Ecol Biol Sol 22: 1-12.

Chladil M, Sheridan J, 2003. Fire retardant garden plants for the urban fringe and rural areas. Tasmanian Fire Research Fund and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

de la Cueva AV, García del Barrio JM, Ortega M, Sánchez-Palomares O, 2006. Recent fire regime in peninsular Spain in relation to forest potential productivity and population density. International J of Wildland Fire 15: 397-405.

de la Cueva AV, Quintana JR, Cañellas I, 2012. Fire activity projections in the SRES A2 and B2 climatic scenarios in peninsular Spain. International J of Wildland Fire 21: 653-665.

de Neergaard A, Saarnak C, Hill T, Khanyile M, Martínez Berzosa A, Birch-Thomsen T, 2005. Australian wattle species in the Drakensberg region of South Africa – An invasive alien or a natural resource? Agr Syst 85(3): 216-233.

ESRI, 2005. ArcGis 8.x. Redland, California, USA.

Fuentes-Ramírez A, Pauchard A, Cavieres LA, García RA, 2011. Survival and growth of Acacia dealbata vs. native trees across an invasion front in south-central Chile. Forest Ecology and Management 261: 1003-1009.

García XR, 1979. Pequena flora de Galicia. Ed Follas Novas, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

González-Muñoz N, Castro-Díez P, Fierro-Brunnenmeister N, 2011. Establishment success of coexisting native and exotic trees under an experimental gradient of irradiance and soil moisture. Environmental Management 48(4): 764-773.

Grigulis K, Lavorel S, Davies ID, Dossantos A, Lloret F, Vilà M, 2005. Landscape-scale positive feedbacks between fire and expansion of the large tussock grass, Ampelodesmos mauritanica in Catalan shrublands. Global Change Biology 11(7): 1042-1053.

Lasanta T, 1988. The process of desertation of cultivated areas in the central Spanish Pyrenees. Pirineos 132: 15-18.

Le Maitre DC, Gaertner M, Marchante E, Ens EJ, Holmes PM, Pauchard A, O'Farrell PJ, Rogers, AM, Blanchard R, Blignaut J, Richardson DM, 2011. Impacts of invasive Australian acacias: implications for management and restoration. Diversity and Distributions 17(5 SI): 1015-1029.

Lorenzo P, Palomera-Pérez A, Reigosa MJ, González L, 2011. Allelopathic interference of invasive Acacia dealbata Link on the physiological parameters of native understory species. Plant Ecology 212(3): 403-412.

Lorenzo P, González L, Reigosa MJ, 2010. The genus Acacia as invader: the characteristic case of Acacia dealbata Link in Europe. Ann For Sci: 67:101-112.

Marcet P, Souto JC, Saleta G, Baamonde D, 2006. Influence of different tree species on the chemical properties in rhizosphere and bulk soils. 18thWorld Congress of Soil Science. July 9-15, Philadelphia, USA.

Marchante HS, Marchante EM, Buscardo E, Maia J, Freitas H, 2004. Recovery potential of dune ecosystems invaded by an exotic Acacia species (Acacia longifolia). Weed Technology 18(5): 1427–1433.[1427:RPODEI]2.0.CO;2

May BM, Attiwill PM, 2003. Nitrogen-fixation by Acacia dealbata and changes in soil properties 5 years after mechanical disturbance or slash-burning following timber harvest. Forest Ecology and Management 181(3): 339-355.

Moreno JM, Vázquez A, Vélez R, 1998. Recent history of forest fires in Spain. In: Large forest fires (Moreno JM, ed). Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands. pp: 159-185.

NATLAN, 2000. CORINE Land Cover 250 m. European Environment Agengy.

Newton AC, Echeverría C, Cantarello E, Bolados G, 2011. Projecting impacts of human disturbances to inform conservation planning and management in a dryland forest landscape. Biological Conservation 144(7): 1949-1960.

Ough K, 2001. Regeneration of wet forest flora a decade after clear-felling or wildfire- is there a difference? Australian Journal of Botany 46: 645-664.

Pons X, 2002. Miramon. Geographic information system and remote sensing software. CREAF. Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra. Barcelona, Spain.

Reigosa MS, González L, Souto XC, Pastoriza JE, 1998. Allelopaty in forest ecosystems. 3rd Int Congress on Allelopaty in Ecological Agriculture and Forestry, Dharwad, India.

Rejmánek M, Richardson DM, Pys˘ec P, 2005. Plant invasions and invasibility of plant communities. In: Vegetation ecology (Eddy Van der Maarel, ed). Blackwell Publishing. pp: 332-355

Ricciardi A, 2007. Are modern biological invasions an unprecedented form of global change? Conservation Biology 21(2): 329-336.

Richardson DM, Pysec P, Rejmanek M, Barbour MG, Dane PF, West CJ, 2000. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Diversity & Distributions 6(2): 93-107.

Rivas-Martínez S, 1987. Mapa de las series de vegetación de Espa-a (1:400.000). Publicaciones del Ministerio de Agricultura Pesca y Alimentación, Instituto Nacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, Madrid, Spain.

Rothermel RC, 1983. How to predict the spread and intensity of fires? USDA, Forest Service, Gen Tech Rep INT- 143, Ogden, UT, USA.

Sánchez-Palomares O, Sánchez-Serrano F, 2000. Mapa de la productividad forestal de Espa-a. Cartografía digital. Dirección General de Conservación de la Naturaleza. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Serie Cartográfica, Madrid, Spain. 317 pp.

Santos AJA, Anjos OMS, Simoes RMS, 2006. Papermaking potential of Acacia dealbata and Acacia melanoxylon. Appita 59(1): 58-64.

Sanz-Elorza M, Dana ED, Sobrino E, 2001. Aproximación al listado de plantas alóctonas invasoras reales y potenciales en Espa-a. Lazaroa 22: 121-131.

Sanz-Elorza M, Dana ED, Sobrino E, 2004. Atlas de las plantas alóctonas invasoras de Espa-a. Madrid, DG de la Biodiversidad, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. 384 pp.

Sheppard AW, Shaw RH, Sforza R, 2006. Top 20 environmental weeds for classical biological control in Europe: a review of opportunities,regulations and other barriers to adoption. Weed Research 46: 93-117

Spooner PG, Lunt ID, Briggs SV, 2004. Spatial analysis of antropogenic disturbance regimes and roadside shrubs in a fragmented agricultural landscape. Applied Vegetation Science 7(1): 61-70.

Vallejo R, Villanueva JA, 2002. El banco de datos de la naturaleza, In: El Inventario Forestal Nacional. Elemento clave para la gestión forestal sostenible (Bravo F, Del Río M, Del Peso C, eds). Fundación General de la Universidad de Valladolid.

Vázquez A, Pérez B, Fernández-González F, Moreno JM, 2002. Recent fire regime characteristics and potential natural vegetation relationships in Spain. Journal of Vegetation Science 13: 663-676.

Vázquez A, Cuevas JM, González-Alonso F, 2001. Comparison of the use of WiFS and LISS images to estimate the area burned in a large forest fire. International Journal of Remote Sensing 22(5): 901-907.

Vélez R, 1990. Algunas observaciones para una selvicultura preventiva de incendios forestales. Ecología, Fuera de Serie 1, ICONA, Madrid, Spain. pp: 561-571.

Vilà M, Bacher S, Hulme P, Kenis M, Kobelt M, Nentwig W, Sol D, Solarz W, 2006. Impactos ecológicos de las invasiones de plantas y vertebrados terrestres en Europa. Ecosistemas 2006/2. [].

Von Holle B, Motzkin G, 2007. Historical land use and environmental determinants of nonnative plant distribution in coastal southern New England. Biological Conservation 136: 33-43.

Xunta de Galicia, 2007. Plantas invasoras de Galicia. Bioloxía, distribución e métodos de control (Fagúndez J, Barrada M, eds). Xunta de Galicia, Consellería de Media Ambiente e Desenvolvemento Sostenible, Dirección Xeral de Conservación da Natureza. 209 pp.

How to Cite
Vazquez de la CuevaA. (2014). Case studies of the expansion of Acacia dealbata in the valley of the river Miño (Galicia, Spain). Forest Systems, 23(1), 3-14.
Research Articles