Role of bait sites in the spread of alien plants in a (forest) landscape

Pavol Eliáš st.

Bait sites are places where attractants are exposed to attract wildlife for hunting. Fifty-five bait-site locations were studied in (western) Slovakia and habitat changes (including phytodiversity) were documented. Bait sites were identified as anthropogenic habitats, causing natural habitat degradation. These anthropogenic habitats host synanthropic plant species, which are spatially limited but they have more than local ecological significance (high concentration of alien organisms and their reproduction at the sites). A total of 150 vascular plant species were found at bait sites in Slovakia, including expansive plants (“quarantine weeds”) and invasive alien plants, arable weeds, ruderal plants as well as poisonous and allergic plants. Localities of the following alien plant species are documented: Abutilon theophrasti, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Datura stramonium, Iva xanthiifolia, and Solanum nigrum. Bait sites are centres of reproduction and spread of the aliens in the natural environment (usually indigenous vegetation – forests and grasslands). Hunters introduce and – together with wildlife (pigs) – distribute the alien plants in the landscape. They have been found and confirmed from field research of flora and vegetation of bait sites in Western Slovakia (Malé Karpaty Mts., Pohronský Inovec Mts., Podunajská nížina Lowland, Tribeč Mts.), Central Slovakia (Kremnické vrchy Mts., Malá Fatra Mts., Veľká Fatra Mts., Oravská Magura Mts., Štiavnické vrchy Mts., Veporské vrchy Mts., Muránska planina Mts.) as well as East Slovakia (Zemplínske vrchy Mts.). By native attractants for feral wildlife, which mainly consist of seeds of several plants (cultural plants and weeds), alien species have been introduced to different phytogeographical regions of the Western Carpathians and to high altitudes.