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Aliens in the room: what to do with exotic species in taxonomic, floristic and phytosociological studies?

The ever-growing presence of exotic organisms (many of which become invasive) throughout the planet has led to the emergence of biological invasions as a field of study within ecology. To enable communication between scientists in this field, a terminology has developed. However, this terminology has been ignored by many botanists in Brazil where there is confusion regarding definition of exotic, naturalized, invasive, weed and ruderal species, leading to inconsistent use of the concepts. Moreover, different authors have adopted antagonistic positions when dealing with exotic species existing in their study areas, either in the preparation of taxonomic treatments or in floristic and phytosociological surveys. While some authors include in floras cultivated, non reproducing species, others exclude even widespread and common invasives. We present here, in Portuguese, the main concepts related to the theme of bioinvasion and draw the attention of Brazilian authors to the necessity for consistent use of the terminological framework available for biological invasions. We also propose that authors should clearly label exotic plants reported in their work, differentiating exotics from native species. Finally, we suggest criteria to help botanists decide when exotic plants should or should not be included in taxonomic treatments or in floristic surveys.

Concepts; exotic species; biological invasions; floras

Sociedade Botânica do Brasil SCLN 307 - Bloco B - Sala 218 - Ed. Constrol Center Asa Norte CEP: 70746-520 - Brasília - DF - Brazil