Abundance of introduced species at home predicts abundance away in herbaceous communities

Date
2011-03-01
Authors
Firn, Jennifer
Harpole, W. Stanley
Moore, Joslin
MacDougall, Andrew
Borer, Elizabeth
Seabloom, Eric
HilleRisLambers, Janneke
Harpole, W.
Cleland, Elsa
Brown, Cynthia
Knops, Johannes
Prober, Suzanne
Pyke, David
Farrell, Kelly
Bakker, Jonathan
O'Halloran, Lydia
Adler, Peter
Collins, Scott
D'Antonio, Carla
Crawley, Michael
Wolkovich, Elizabeth
La Pierre, Kimberly
Melbourne, Brett
Hautier, Yann
Morgan, John
Leakey, Andrew
Kay, Adam
McCulley, Rebecca
Davies, Kendi
Stevens, Carly
Chu, Chengjin
Holl, Karen
Klein, Julia
Fay, Philip
Hagenah, Nicole
Kirkman, Kevin
Buckley, Yvonne
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Abstract

Many ecosystems worldwide are dominated by introduced plant species, leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function. A common but rarely tested assumption is that these plants are more abundant in introduced vs. native communities, because ecological or evolutionary-based shifts in populations underlie invasion success. Here, data for 26 herbaceous species at 39 sites, within eight countries, revealed that species abundances were similar at native (home) and introduced (away) sites – grass species were generally abundant home and away, while forbs were low in abundance, but more abundant at home. Sites with six or more of these species had similar community abundance hierarchies, suggesting that suites of introduced species are assembling similarly on different continents. Overall, we found that substantial changes to populations are not necessarily a pre-condition for invasion success and that increases in species abundance are unusual. Instead, abundance at home predicts abundance away, a potentially useful additional criterion for biosecurity programmes.

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This article is from Ecology Letters 14, no. 3 (2011): 274–281, doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01584.x.

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