A phylogenetic analysis of the British flora sheds light on the evolutionary and ecological factors driving plant invasions

Junying Lim, Mick J. Crawley, Natasha De Vere, Tim Rich, Vincent Savolainen

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18 Citations (SciVal)
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Abstract

Darwin's naturalization hypothesis predicts that invasive species should perform better in their novel range in the absence of close relatives in the native flora due to reduced competition. Evidence from recent taxonomic and phylogenetic-based studies, however, is equivocal. We test Darwin's naturalization hypothesis at two different spatial scales using a fossil-dated molecular phylogenetic tree of the British native and alien flora (ca. 1600 species) and extensive, fine-scale survey data from the 1998 Countryside Survey. At both landscape and local scales, invasive species were neither significantly more nor less related to the native flora than their non-invasive alien counterparts. Species invasiveness was instead correlated with higher nitrogen and moisture preference, but not other life history traits such as life-form and height. We argue that invasive species spread in Britain is hence more likely determined by changes in land use and other anthropogenic factors, rather than evolutionary history. Synthesis. The transition from non-invasive to invasive is not related to phylogenetic distinctiveness to the native community, but instead to their environmental preferences. Therefore, combating biological invasions in the Britain and other industrialized countries need entirely different strategies than in more natural environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4258-69
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume4
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Keywords

  • British flora
  • Darwin's naturalization hypothesis
  • Ellenberg indicators
  • functional trait
  • invasive species
  • molecular phylogenetics

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