A global assessment of a large monocot family highlights the need for group-specific analyses of invasiveness
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Significant progress has been made in understanding biological invasions recently, and one of the key findings is that the determinants of naturalization and invasion success vary from group to group. Here, we explore this variation for one of the largest plant families in the world, the Araceae. This group provides an excellent opportunity for identifying determinants of invasiveness in herbaceous plants, since it is one of the families most popular with horticulturalists, with species occupying various habitats and comprising many different life forms.We first developed a checklist of 3494 species of Araceae using online databases and literature sources. We aimed to determine whether invasiveness across the introduction–naturalization–invasion continuum is associated to particular traits within the family, and whether analyses focussed on specific life forms can reveal any mechanistic correlates. Boosted regression tree models were based on species invasion statuses as the response variables, and traits associated with human use, biological characteristics and distribution as the explanatory variables. The models indicate that biological traits such as plant life form and pollinator type are consistently strong correlates of invasiveness. Additionally, largescale correlates such as the number of native floristic regions and number of introduced regions are also influential at particular stages in the invasion continuum.We used these traits to build a phenogram showing groups defined by the similarity of characters.We identified nine groups that have a greater tendency to invasiveness (including Alocasia, the Lemnoideae and Epipremnum). From this, we propose a list of species that are not currently invasive for which we would recommend a precautionary approach to be taken. The successful management of plant invasions will depend on understanding such context-dependent effects across taxonomic groups, and across the different stages of the invasion process.
- RESEARCH: Wilson, JRU