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Invasiveness in plant communities with feedbacks

Eppstein, Margaret J., Molofsky, Jane
Ecology letters 2007 v.10 no.4 pp. 253-263
biodiversity, biologists, ecosystems, introduced species, invasive species, plant communities, remediation
The detrimental effects of invasive plant species on ecosystems are well documented. While much research has focused on discovering ecological influences associated with invasiveness, it remains unclear how these influences interact, causing some introduced exotic species to become invasive threats. Here we develop a framework that incorporates the influences of propagule pressure, frequency independent growth rates, feedback relationships, resource competition and spatial scale of interactions. Our results show that these ecological influences interact in complex ways, resulting in expected outcomes ranging from inability to establish, to naturalization, to conditional invasion dependent on quantity and spatial distribution of propagules, to unconditional takeover. We propose a way to predict the likelihood of these four possible outcomes, for a species recently introduced into a given target community. Such information could enable conservation biologists to craft strategies and target remediation efforts more efficiently and effectively in order to help maintain biodiversity in ecological communities.