Invasiveness of plants is predicted by size and fecundity in the native range
Ecology and Evolution
Open access under a Creative Commons licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
An important goal for invasive species research is to find key traits of species that predispose them to being invasive outside their native range. Comparative studies have revealed phenotypic and demographic traits that correlate with invasiveness among plants. However, all but a few previous studies have been performed in the invaded range, an approach which potentially conflates predictors of invasiveness with changes that happen during the invasion process itself. Here, we focus on wild plants in their native range to compare life-history traits of species known to be invasive elsewhere, with their exported but noninvasive relatives. Specifically, we test four hypotheses: that invasive plant species (1) are larger; (2) are more fecund; (3) exhibit higher fecundity for a given size; and (4) attempt to make seed more frequently, than their noninvasive relatives in the native range. We control for the effects of environment and phylogeny using sympatric congeneric or confamilial pairs in the native range. We find that invasive species are larger than noninvasive relatives. Greater size yields greater fecundity, but we also find that invasives are more fecund per-unit-size. SYNTHESIS: We provide the first multispecies, taxonomically controlled comparison of size, and fecundity of invasive versus noninvasive plants in their native range. We find that invasive species are bigger, and produce more seeds, even when we account for their differences in size. Our findings demonstrate that invasive plant species are likely to be invasive as a result of both greater size and constitutively higher fecundity. This suggests that size and fecundity, relative to related species, could be used to predict which plants should be quarantined.
We thank the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust for access to field sites, Dr. Colin French for use of the ERICA database, and Luke Davis and Cheryl Mills for assistance during data collection. KJ was supported by the University of Exeter as part of its wildlife research partnership with DEFRA's National Wildlife Management Centre. DH was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council grant reference NE/L007770/1.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 5 (10), pp. 1933 - 1943
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