Quantifying the invasiveness of species
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The success of invasive species has been explained by two contrasting but non-exclusive views: (i) intrinsic factors make some species inherently good invaders; (ii) species become invasive as a result of extrinsic ecological and genetic influences such as release from natural enemies, hybridization or other novel ecological and evolutionary interactions. These viewpoints are rarely distinguished but hinge on distinct mechanisms leading to different management scenarios. To improve tests of these hypotheses of invasion success we introduce a simple mathematical framework to quantify the invasiveness of species along two axes: (i) interspecific differences in performance among native and introduced species within a region, and (ii) intraspecific differences between populations of a species in its native and introduced ranges. Applying these equations to a sample dataset of occurrences of 1,416 plant species across Europe, Argentina, and South Africa, we found that many species are common in their native range but become rare following introduction; only a few introduced species become more common. Biogeographical factors limiting spread (e.g. biotic resistance, time of invasion) therefore appear more common than those promoting invasion (e.g. enemy release). Invasiveness, as measured by occurrence data, is better explained by inter-specific variation in invasion potential than biogeographical changes in performance. We discuss how applying these comparisons to more detailed performance data would improve hypothesis testing in invasion biology and potentially lead to more efficient management strategies.
- RESEARCH: Richardson D