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Data from: Revisiting Darwin’s naturalization conundrum: explaining invasion success of non-native trees and shrubs in southern Africa

Citation

Bezeng, Simeon Bezeng et al. (2016), Data from: Revisiting Darwin’s naturalization conundrum: explaining invasion success of non-native trees and shrubs in southern Africa, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6t7t6

Abstract

1. Invasive species are detrimental ecologically and economically. Their negative impacts in Africa are extensive and call for a renewed commitment to better understand the correlates of invasion success. 2. Here, we explored several putative drivers of species invasion among woody non-native trees and shrubs in southern Africa, a region of high floristic diversity. We tested for differences in functional traits between plant categories using a combination of phylogenetic independent contrasts and a simulation-based phylogenetic anova. 3. We found that non-native species generally have longer flowering duration compared with native species and are generally hermaphroditic, and their dispersal is mostly abiotically mediated. We also revealed that non-native trees and shrubs that have become invasive are less closely related to native trees and shrubs than their non-invasive non-native counterparts. Non-natives that are more closely related to the native species pool may be more likely to possess traits suited to the new environment in which they find themselves and thus have greater chance of establishment. However, successful invaders are less closely related to the native pool, indicating evidence for competitive release or support for the vacant niche theory. 4. Synthesis. Non-native trees and shrubs in southern Africa are characterized by a suite of traits, including long flowering times, a hermaphroditic sexual system and abiotic dispersal, which may represent important adaptations promoting establishment. We suggest that differences in the evolutionary distances separating the native species pool from invasive and non-invasive species might help resolve Darwin's naturalization conundrum.

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