Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2013, Vol. 5 Issue (3): 275-283    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0161-3
Research Articles     
Invasion syndromes: hypotheses on relationships among invasive species attributes and characteristics of invaded sites
Lora B PERKINS1*, Robert S NOWAK2
1 Department of Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University, Brookings SD 57007, USA;
2 Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno NV 89557, USA
Download:   PDF(601KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  As invasion science accepts that there is no single causal factor for biological invasion, the identification of groups of traits that are often associated, or “syndromes”, is a logical move forward. Invasion syndromes are proposed to identify suites of site conditions (biotic and environmental) that render a site vulnerable to invasion by different types of invaders. This paper proposed four invasion syndromes which relate invader attributes (competitive ability, niche construction, phenotypic plasticity, and phenological niche separation) to the biotic characteristics (biodiversity and enemies) and environmental conditions (resource abundance and fluctuation) of invaded sites. The four invasion syndromes described in this paper are a development of hypotheses of how the many factors that influence species invasion might be associated. Invasion Syndrome 1 proposes that sites with relatively high resource abundance and high diversity should be vulnerable to invasion by species with high competitive ability. Invasion Syndrome 2 hypothesizes that sites with relatively low resource abundance and low diversity should be vulnerable to invasion by species with niche construction ability. Invasion Syndrome 3 postulates that sites with moderate or fluctuating resources and moderate diversity should be vulnerable to invasion by species with high phenotypic plasticity. Invasion Syndrome 4 hypothesizes that species introduced into a site where it has phenological niche separation from natives will not have to contend with interference from the biotic community at a site (diversity or natural enemies) and may invade where ever site environmental conditions suit its life history. Further work is needed to support, contradict, or refine these hypotheses and almost certainly will identify more invasion syndromes.

Key wordsdrought      tree ring chronology      climate modeling      probability      central Prairie     
Received: 29 November 2012      Published: 10 September 2013

This work was supported by the US National Science Founda-tion (1047575)

Corresponding Authors: Lora B PERKINS     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Lora B PERKINS, Robert S NOWAK. Invasion syndromes: hypotheses on relationships among invasive species attributes and characteristics of invaded sites. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(3): 275-283.

URL:     OR

Alpert P, Bone E, Holzapfel C. 2000. Invasiveness, invasibility and the role of environmental stress in the spread of non-native plants. Per-spectives in Plant Ecology Evolution and Systematics, 3: 52–66.

Baker H. 1974. The evolution of weeds. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 5: 1–24.

Barney J N, Whitlow T H. 2008. A unifying framework for biological invasions: the state factor model. Biological Invasions, 10: 259–272.

Bertness M D, Callaway R. 1994. Positive interactions in communities. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 9: 191–193.

Blossey B, Notzold R. 1995. Evolution of increased competitive ability in invasive nonindigenous plants: a hypothesis. Journal of Ecology, 83: 887–889.

Caldow R W G, Stillman R A, Durell S A D, et al. 2007. Benefits to shorebirds from invasion of a non-native shellfish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274: 1449–1455.

Catford J A, Jansson R, Nilsson C. 2009. Reducing redundancy in invasion ecology by integrating hypotheses into a single theoretical framework. Diversity and Distributions, 15: 22–40.

Catford J A, Vesk P A, White M D, et al. 2011. Hotspots of plant invasion predicted by propagule pressure and ecosystem characteristics. Diversity and Distributions, 17: 1099–1110.

Chytry M, Jarosik V, Pyšek P, et al. 2008. Separating habitat invasibility by alien plants from the actual level of invasion. Ecology, 89: 1541–1553.

Cuddington K, Hastings A. 2004. Invasive engineers. Ecological Modeling, 178: 335–347.

Cuddington K, Wilson W G, Hastings A. 2009. Ecosystem engineers: feedback and population dynamics. The American Naturalist, 173: 488–498.

Cushman J H, Lortie C J, Christian C E. 2011. Native herbivores and plant facilitation mediate the performance and distribution of an in-vasive exotic grass. Journal of Ecology, 99: 524–531.

D’Antonio C M. 1993. Mechanisms controlling invasion of coastal plant communities by the alien succulent Carpobrotus edulis. Ecology, 74: 83–95.

Davidson A M, Jennions M, Nicotra A B. 2011. Do invasive species show higher phenotypic plasticity than native species and, if so, is it adaptive? A meta-analysis. Ecology Letters, 14: 419–431.

Davis M, Chew M K, Hobbs R J, et al. 2011. Don’t judge species on their origins. Nature, 474: 153–154.

Davis M A, Grime J P, Thompson K. 2000. Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. Journal of Ecology, 88: 528–534.

Deckers B, Verheyen K, Hermy M. 2005. Effects of landscape structure on the invasive spread of black cherry Prunus serotina in an agricultural landscape in Flanders, Belgium. Ecography, 28: 99–109.

Drenovsky R E, Khasanova A, James J J. 2012. Trait convergence and plasticity among native and invasive species in resource-poor environments. American Journal of Botany, 99: 629–639.

Elton C. 1958. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eviner V T, Garbach K, Baty J H. 2012. Measuring the effects of invasive plants on ecosystem services: challenges and prospects. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 5: 125–136.

Farrer E C, Goldberg D E. 2009. Litter drives ecosystem and plant community changes in cattail invasion. Ecological Applications, 19: 398–412.

Goldberg D E, Landa K. 1991. Competitive effect and response: hierarchies and correlated traits in the early stages of competition. Journal of Ecology, 79: 1013–1030.

Hart S P, Marshall D J. 2012. Advantages and disadvantages of interference-competitive ability and resource-use efficiency when invading established communities. Oikos, 121: 396–402.

He Q, Cui B S, An Y. 2012. Physical stress, not biotic interactions, preclude an invasive grass from establishing in forb-dominated salt marshes. PLos One, 7: e33164.

Holmquist J G, Schmidt-Gengenbach J, Slaton M R. 2011. Influence of invasive palms on terrestrial arthropod assemblages in desert spring habitat. Biological Conservation, 144: 518–525.

Jeschke J M, Gómez Aparicio L, Haider S, et al. 2012. Support for major hypotheses in invasion biology is uneven and declining. NeoBiota, 14: 1–20.

Jones C G, Lawton J H, Shachak M. 1994. Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos, 69: 373–386.

Keane R M, Crawley M J. 2002. Exotic plant invasions and the enemy release hypothesis. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 17: 164–170.

Kennedy T A, Naeem S, Howe K M, et al. 2002. Biodiversity as a barrier to ecological invasion. Nature, 417: 636–638.

Kylafis G, Loreau M. 2008. Ecological and evolutionary consequences of niche construction for its agent. Ecology Letters, 11: 1072–1081.

Kylafis G, Loreau M. 2011. Niche construction in the light of niche theory. Ecology Letters, 14: 82–90.

Larson D L, Anderson P J, Newton W. 2001. Alien plant invasion in mixed-grass prairie: effects of vegetation type and anthropogenic disturbance. Ecological Applications, 11: 128–141.

Levine J M. 2000. Species diversity and biological invasions: relating local process to community pattern. Science, 288: 852–854.

Levine J M, Vilà M, Antonio C M D. 2003. Mechanisms underlying the impacts of exotic plant invasions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 270: 775–781.

Levine J M, Adler P B, Yelenik S G. 2004. A meta-analysis of biotic resistance to exotic plant invasions. Ecology Letters, 7: 975–989.

Lockwood J L, Cassey P, Blackburn T. 2005. The role of propagule pressure in explaining species invasions. Trends in Ecology & Evo-lution, 20: 223–228.

MacDougall A S, Boucher J, Turkington R. 2006. Patterns of plant invasion along an environmental stress gradient. Journal of Vegeta-tion Science, 17: 47–56.

Mack R N, Simberloff D, Lonsdale W M, et al. 2000. Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecological Applications, 10: 689–710.

Maestre F T, Callaway R M, Valladares F, et al. 2009. Refining the stress-gradient hypothesis for competition and facilitation in plant communities. Journal of Ecology, 97: 199–205.

Maron J L, Vilà M. 2001. When do herbivores affect plant invasion? Evidence for the natural enemies and biotic resistance hypotheses. Oikos, 95: 361–373.

Molina–Montenegro M A, Penuelas J, Munne-Bosch S, et al. 2012. Higher plasticity in ecophysiological traits enhances the performance and invasion success of Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) in alpine environments. Biological Invasions, 14: 21–33.

Oksanen L, Oksanen T. 2000. The logic and realism of the hypothesis of exploitation ecosystems. American Naturalist, 155: 703–723.

Olech M, Chwedorzewska K J. 2011. The first appearance and establishment of an alien vascular plant in natural habitats on the forefield of a retreating glacier in Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 23: 153–154.

Palacio–Lopez K, Gianoli E. 2011. Invasive plants do not display greater phenotypic plasticity than their native or non-invasive counterparts: a meta-analysis. Oikos, 120: 1393–1401.

Perkins L B, Leger E A, Nowak R S. 2011. Invasion triangle: an organizational framework for species invasion. Ecology and Evolution, 1: 610–625.

Perkins L B, Nowak R S. 2013. Native and non-native grasses generate common types of plant-soil feedbacks by altering soil nutrients and microbial communities. Oikos, 122: 199–208.

Pichancourt J B, van Klinken R D. 2012. Phenotypic plasticity influences the size, shape and dynamics of the geographic distribution of an invasive plant. PLos One, 7: 12.

Pyšek P, Jarosik V, Hulme P E, et al. 2012. A global assessment of invasive plant impacts on resident species, communities and eco-systems: the interaction of impact measures, invading species’ traits and environment. Global Change Biology, 18: 1725–1737.

Rees M, Condit R, Crawley M, et al. 2001. Long-term studies of vege-tation dynamics. Science, 293: 650–655.

Richards C L, Bossdorf O, Muth N Z, et al. 2006. Jack of all trades, master of some? On the role of phenotypic plasticity in plant invasions. Ecology Letters, 9: 981–993.

Richardson D M, Pyšek P, Rejmanek M, et al. 2000. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Diversity and Distributions, 6: 93–107.

Richardson D M, Pyšek P. 2006. Plant invasions: merging the concepts of species invasiveness and community invasibility. Progress in Physical Geography, 30: 409–431.

Schweiger O, Biesmeijer J C, Bommarco R, et al. 2010. Multiple stressors on biotic interactions: how climate change and alien species interact to affect pollination. Biological Reviews, 85: 777–795.

Shea K, Chesson P. 2002. Community ecology theory as a framework for biological invasions. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 17: 170–176.

Stohlgren T J, Barnett D T, Kartesz J. 2003. The rich get richer: patterns of plant invasions in the United States. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 1: 11–14.

Stohlgren T J, Crosier C, Chong G W, et al. 2005. Life-history habitat matching in invading non-native plant species. Plant and Soil, 277: 7–18.

van de Koppel J, Huisman J, van der Wal R, et al. 1996. Patterns of herbivory along a productivity gradient: an empirical and theoretical investigation. Ecology, 77: 736–745.

Vilà M, Weiner J. 2004. Are invasive plant species better competitors than native plant species? Evidence from pair-wise experiments. Oikos, 105: 229–238.

Von Holle B, Simberloff D. 2005. Ecological resistance to biological invasion overwhelmed by propagule pressure. Ecology, 86: 3212–3218.

Walker S, Wilson J B, Lee W G. 2005. Does fluctuating resource avail-ability increase invasibility? Evidence from field experiments in New Zealand short tussock grassland. Biological Invasions, 7: 195–211.

Wardle D A. 2001. Experimental demonstration that plant diversity reduces invasibility–evidence of a biological mechanism or a consequence of sampling effect? Oikos, 95: 161–170.

Wolkovich E M, Cleland E E. 2011. The phenology of plant invasions: a community ecology perspective. Frontiers in Ecology and the En-vironment, 9: 287–294.
[1] HUANG Laiming, ZHAO Wen, SHAO Ming'an. Response of plant physiological parameters to soil water availability during prolonged drought is affected by soil texture[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 688-698.
[2] WANG Chunyuan, YU Minghan, DING Guodong, GAO Guanglei, ZHANG Linlin, HE Yingying, LIU Wei. Size- and leaf age-dependent effects on the photosynthetic and physiological responses of Artemisia ordosica to drought stress[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 744-758.
[3] Nirmal M DAHAL, XIONG Donghong, Nilhari NEUPANE, Belayneh YIGEZ, ZHANG Baojun, YUAN Yong, Saroj KOIRALA, LIU Lin, FANG Yiping. Spatiotemporal analysis of drought variability based on the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index in the Koshi River Basin, Nepal[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 433-454.
[4] Türkan BAYER ALTIN, Bekir N ALTIN. Response of hydrological drought to meteorological drought in the eastern Mediterranean Basin of Turkey[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(5): 470-486.
[5] Ayad M F AL-QURAISHI, Heman A GAZNAYEE, Mattia CRESPI. Drought trend analysis in a semi-arid area of Iraq based on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Normalized Difference Water Index and Standardized Precipitation Index[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(4): 413-430.
[6] WANG Yudan, KONG Yunfeng, CHEN Hao, DING Yongjian. Spatial-temporal characteristics of drought detected from meteorological data with high resolution in Shaanxi Province, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(4): 561-579.
[7] Hani S SAUDY, Ibrahim M EL-METWALLY, Goma A ABD EL-SAMAD. Physio-biochemical and nutrient constituents of peanut plants under bentazone herbicide for broad-leaved weed control and water regimes in dry land areas[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(4): 630-639.
[8] YANG Meilin, YU Yang, ZHANG Haiyan, WANG Qian, GAN Miao, YU Ruide. Tree ring based drought variability in Northwest Tajikistan since 1895 AD[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(3): 413-422.
[9] LI Yangyang, CHEN Jiacun, AI Shaoshui, SHI Hui. Responses of leaf water potential and gas exchange to the precipitation manipulation in two shrubs on the Chinese Loess Plateau[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 267-282.
[10] Sheida DEHGHAN, Nasrin SALEHNIA, Nasrin SAYARI, Bahram BAKHTIARI. Prediction of meteorological drought in arid and semi-arid regions using PDSI and SDSM: a case study in Fars Province, Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(2): 318-330.
[11] HU Xiaoxing, Mitsuru HIROTA, Wuyunna, Kiyokazu KAWADA, LI Hao, MENG Shikang, Kenji TAMURA, Takashi KAMIJO. Responses in gross primary production of Stipa krylovii and Allium polyrhizum to a temporal rainfall in a temperate grassland of Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(6): 824-836.
[12] MAMUT Jannathan, Dunyan TAN, C BASKIN Carol, M BASKIN Jerry. Effects of water stress and NaCl stress on different life cycle stages of the cold desert annual Lachnoloma lehmannii in China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(5): 774-784.
[13] HADIAN Fatemeh, JAFARI Reza, BASHARI Hossein, TARTESH Mostafa, D CLARKE Kenneth. Estimation of spatial and temporal changes in net primary production based on Carnegie Ames Stanford Approach (CASA) model in semi-arid rangelands of SemiromCounty, Iran[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 477-494.
[14] DZIKITI Sebinasi, Z JOVANOVIC Nebo, DH BUGAN Richard, RAMOELO Abel, P MAJOZI Nobuhle, NICKLESS Alecia, A CHO Moses, C LE MAITRE David, NTSHIDI Zanele, H PIENAAR Harrison. Comparison of two remote sensing models for estimating evapotranspiration: algorithm evaluation and application in seasonally arid ecosystems in South Africa[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 495-512.
[15] KHAJEDDIN SayedJamaleddin, MATINKHAH SayedHamid, JAFARI Zahra. A drought resistance index to select drought resistant plant species based on leaf water potential measurements[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(4): 623-635.