Alien plant invasions contribute significantly to global changes by often affecting biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Operational methods for identifying landscape attributes that promote or constrain plant invasions are urgently needed to predict their future spread and manage them efficiently. We combined landscape and functional ecology concepts to define patch mosaic functional types (PMFTs) as groups of cells showing the same response to a plant invasion in a heterogeneous forest landscape. The invasion of a European temperate forest by the American black cherry (Prunus serotina) has been chosen as a case study. A set of variables was collected, mapped using a Geographic Information System, and analyzed with multivariate analyses to correlate landscape traits with Prunus serotina abundance in each cell of a grid overlaid on the forest. A risk index was derived and mapped for three invasion levels: seedling colonization, tree establishment, and ecosystem invasion. Five PMFTs were identified and characterized by a set of traits related to soil properties, land use, disturbance, and invasion history. Scots pine plantations on podzols were the most invasible, while cells dominated by hydromorphic or calcareous soils were the most resistant. Most colonized patch mosaics provided suitable conditions for future establishment and invasion. Being strongly spatially connected, suitable patches provide corridors for Prunus serotina to colonize new parts of the forest. Conversely, the most resistant PMFTs were spatially agglomerated in the south of the forest and could act as a barrier. Colonization, establishment, and invasion risk maps were finally obtained by combining partial risks associated with each landscape trait at the cell scale. Within a heterogeneous landscape, we defined and organized PMFTs into a hierarchy, according to their associated risk for colonization, establishment, or invasion by a given invasive species. Each hierarchical level should be associated with a management strategy aiming at reducing one or more partial risk. Monitoring safe areas, extending cutting rotations, harvesting recently colonized stands tree by tree, promoting a multilayered understory vegetation, cutting down reproducing alien trees, favoring shade-tolerant, fast-growing, native tree species, removing alien trees at the leading edge, and proposing soil enrichment or irrigation in heavily invaded areas are recommended.
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