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Monday, January 25 • 10:40am - 11:00am
A Review of Traits-Based Approaches To Understanding Invasiveness

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AUTHORS: Brandon K. Peoples*, Purdue University; Reuben R. Goforth, Purdue University

ABSTRACT: Using functional species traits for understanding organismal invasiveness is a rapidly-expanding field of ecology. The first conceptual “invasion hypotheses” were entirely traits based, but many subsequent models emphasize event-level factors; contemporary syntheses are converging on a hierarchical perspective involving multiple mechanisms. A common goal for invasive species prevention is to identify traits that contribute broadly to invasiveness. Many traits contribute to invasiveness, but traits that contribute ‘universally’ to invasiveness remain elusive due to limited taxonomic and/or geographic scope of research. Broad-scale approaches may yield results that are more generally applicable. Genotypic/phenotypic variation and plasticity in traits can contribute to invasiveness by increasing the probability of phenotypic-environment compatibility, or by conferring greater flexibility than native species for persisting in heavily disturbed or subsidized environments. Invasive species often exhibit greater plasticity than native species, but the fitness consequences of plasticity can be context dependent. Pairwise analyses typically reveal significant differences in trait values between invasive and native species, suggesting a traits-based mechanism to invasiveness. However, studies comparing the relative roles of various mechanisms contributing to establishment success often reveal a diminished role of traits when compared to propagule pressure/human affiliation, environmental matching, and native range size. Accordingly, gaps exist between theory and observations because (a) most statistical approaches do not account of the hierarchical nature of the invasion process, and (b) because hierarchical conceptual models are difficult to translate into statistical models without major modification. We present a conceptual framework integrating mechanisms from multiple major invasion hypotheses. This framework retains the direct effects of previous models, but represents a hierarchical structure allowing interrelated mechanisms. The framework can be parameterized using hierarchical modeling (e.g. structural equations), then either supported or refuted, given a dataset.

Monday January 25, 2016 10:40am - 11:00am EST
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