Ruderals naturalize and competitors invade

Kun Guo, Petr Pyšek, Milan Chytrý, Jan Divíšek, Zdeňka Lososová, Mark van Kleunen, Simon Pierce, Wen-Yong Guo

This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here.

Deciphering the factors that allow plants to progress from introduction through establishment to spread (i.e., introduction-naturalization-invasion continuum) is of great importance to both theoretical and applied ecology. Recently, Grime’s adaptive strategies, i.e., competitors (C), stress-tolerators (S) and ruderals (R), which reflect the trade-offs among traits and represent overall adaptations to environmental selection pressures, have been used to understand plant naturalization, and the results demonstrate the promise of such a framework. However, we still know little about the factors that determine the successful transition of plants along the introduction-naturalization-invasion continuum.

Native, naturalized, and invasive species within the competitive, stress-tolerant, and ruderal (CSR) adaptive strategy triangle. Sketch figures of representative species of the three species groups in the Czech Republic are shown (credit: Kun Guo)

Based on a national database of the Czech Republic, we explored how different invasion stages relate to CSR strategies and introduction pathways (deliberate vs. accidental introduction). We found that native, naturalized, and invasive species occupy different parts of CSR space. More specifically, regardless of introduction pathway, ruderals – characterized by rapid growth and life cycle completion – are more likely to be naturalized, whereas competitors – characterized by large individuals with large organs that successfully acquire available resources – favour invasiveness once a self-sustaining population is established. Our results advance our understanding of plant invasions and have implications for predicting and preventing potential high-impact invaders. For example, based on our results, precautions against the introduction of C-selected species should be prioritized due to their high likelihood of becoming invasive.


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