Evol Ecol Res 4: 385-405 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Which species become aliens?

Andreas Prinzing,* Walter Durka, Stefan Klotz and Roland Brandl

Department of Community Ecology, UFZ – Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, D-06120 Halle, Germany

Address all correspondence to Andreas Prinzing, Institute of Zoology, Abt. V, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Becherweg 13, D-55099 Mainz, Germany.
e-mail: prinzing@oekologie.biologie.uni-mainz.de


Alien plant species are a potential threat to global biodiversity. However, only a few species in a species pool become aliens. Until now, it was unclear how these alien species differ from non-aliens. We considered central European aliens in two Argentine provinces. We found that these alien species are characterized by: (1) frequency in central Europe and utilization by humans; (2) a preference for warm, dry and nitrogen-rich conditions in central Europe; (3) a native range that covers several floristic zones; and (4) a ruderal life strategy. Aliens are not characterized by wind or vertebrate dispersal. The traits of aliens indicate that they are in frequent contact with humans as their dispersal vector. They are pre-adapted to the abiotic conditions in Argentina. And they are versatile and can colonize disturbed sites. From these traits we were able to predict correctly 81% of alien species. Thus, traits of species may help us to predict future aliens – even across higher plants in total and even based on an incomplete knowledge of the present alien flora. But such a prediction will require extensive knowledge of the species’ traits.

Keywords: Argentina, dispersal, ecological versatility, invasive species, life strategy, neophyte, pre-adaptation, species pool.

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