Lloret, Francisco and Médail, Frédéric and Brundu, Giuseppe Antonio Domenico and Camarda, Ignazio and Moragues, Eva and Rita, Juan and Lambdon, Philip and Hulme, Philip E. (2005) Species attributes and invasion success by alien plants on Mediterranean islands. Journal of Ecology, Vol. 93 (3), p. 512-520. eISSN 1365-2745. Article.
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1 Species attributes have been used to explain invasion patterns assuming the prevalence
of biological mechanisms, although this approach often suffers several methodological
and conceptual limitations, such as local idiosyncrasies, differences among habitats,
phylogenetic constraints and insufficient sample size.
2 The relative importance of 15 species traits for explaining the abundance over 350
naturalized alien plant species was assessed across five Mediterranean islands (Corsica,
Crete, Majorca, Malta and Sardinia). A comparative analysis accounting for phylogeny
was used to examine variation in semi-quantitative estimates of species abundance in
comparable habitats across the five island floras.
3 Species were divided into those with affinity for semi-natural, agricultural and ruderal
habitats. Both vegetative and reproductive attributes were evaluated for individual islands
and averaged across all islands.
4 Vegetative propagation, large leaf size, summer flowering, long flowering period and
dispersal by wind or vertebrates were positively associated with average alien abundance
across all five islands. Fewer significant trends were found in island-specific patterns.
5 The relative importance of a few reproductive traits is reflected in over-representation
of Caryophyllales, Asterales and Poales (late flowering, large seed size and anemochory).
Although significant covariation in traits was found there was no evidence for welldefined
6 Succulence was important in ruderal habitats, long flowering period in agricultural
habitats and vertebrate seed dispersal in semi-natural habitats, suggesting that empty
niches, avoidance of competitors and exploitation of mutualists, respectively, are
7 The study highlights the importance of estimating invasion success across a wide
region, but analyses of specific invasion stages are also needed. Reproductive traits,
which may be more relevant for long-distance colonization, and vegetative traits, which
determine local dominance and persistence, were, nevertheless, both related to abundance
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