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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SEMIARID RANGELAND ECOSYSTEMS: THE CONSERVATION-PRODUCTION INTERFACE

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Title: Do invasive species perform better in their new ranges?)

Author
item Parker, John
item Torchin, Mark
item Hufbauer, Ruth
item Lemoine, Nathan
item Alba, Christina
item Blumenthal, Dana
item Bossdorf, Oliver
item Byers, Jeb
item Dunn, Alison
item Heckman, Robert

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2013
Publication Date: 5/11/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58186
Citation: Parker, J.D., Torchin, M.E., Hufbauer, R., Lemoine, N., Alba, C., Blumenthal, D.M., Bossdorf, O., Byers, J., Dunn, A., Heckman, R. 2013. Do invasive species perform better in their new ranges? Ecology. 94(5):985-994.

Interpretive Summary: A fundamental assumption in invasion biology is that successful invaders exhibit enhanced vigor following introductions to new ranges. This assumption underlies most studies of invasion success, yet there is surprisingly little comparative data on invader performance at home versus away. We compared the performance of a diverse range of 26 plant species and 27 animal species that are considered among the world’s worst invaders. Individuals of these species on average were larger, reproduced more, and were more abundant in their introduced ranges, providing support for the hypothesis that invaders do better in the new range. However, the general patterns that we found belied significant variability among species, as 29 species (55%), did not perform better in their introduced ranges. Our data demonstrate that while many species might benefit from the introduction process, others may simply be dominant wherever they are found, suggesting dramatically different mechanisms of invasiveness even for the world’s worst invasive species.

Technical Abstract: A fundamental assumption in invasion biology is that successful invaders exhibit enhanced vigor following introductions to new ranges, including larger size, greater fecundity, and denser populations. This assumption of ‘increased vigour’ underlies most empirical and theoretical studies of invasion success, yet there is surprisingly little comparative data on invader demography at home versus away. To examine whether invasive species generally perform better in their new versus old ranges, we compared the demographic performance of a diverse range of 26 plant species (annual herbs to trees) and 27 animal species (birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, and invertebrates) that are considered among the world’s worst invaders. Individuals of these species on average were indeed larger, more fecund, and more abundant in their introduced ranges, providing support for the hypothesis that invaders do better in the new range. However, the general patterns that we found belied significant variability among species, as 29 species (55%) had demographic traits that were statistically indistinguishable or even lower than conspecifics from their native range. Our data demonstrate that while many species might benefit from the introduction process, presumably because of novel ecological and evolutionary processes, others may simply be dominant wherever they are found, suggesting dramatically different mechanisms of invasiveness even for the world’s worst invasive species.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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