Invasive species prefer certain habitats

USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Northern Research Station; Purdue University; Brown University; University of Washington; University of Tennessee-Knoxville; University of Nevada-Reno; University of Georgia; University of Missouri-St. Louis; U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); South Florida Water Management District; Chinese Academy of Science; University of California-Berkeley; USGS-EROS Data Center; University of Hong Kong; Taiwan National University; Biota of North America Program; Synthesis Centre sDiv / Wissenschaftlicher Koordinator Synthesezentrum sDiv German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; North Carolina State University; Florida International University

SUMMARY: It is commonly believed that more diverse habitats are less invasible due to niche occupation. However, recent evidence shows that invasibility is a much more complex issue and may be determined by multiple factors. Invasibility tends to be the highest when the existing biomass is the lowest. Also, habitat invasibility changes over time. For better control and management, future research should focus more on the mass dominance of a few true invasives rather than total number of exotics in a habitat. Currently, scientists are collecting metadata regarding various habitat characteristics and invasibility from diverse ecosystems in U.S. forests, other ecosystems, and around the world to further test the generality of the above conclusions.

The researchers ask the following questions: (1) What kinds of habitats/communities are most invasible and whether such invasibility is associated with disturbance (including land use), landscape configuration, and habitat traits? (2) Does biodiversity help resist biotic invasion, and if so, how? And (3) How does climate change in the future affect the spread of invasive species? Preliminary observations show that species-rich communities are invasible but may be so at a lesser degree, although individual component species can show highly invader-specific resistance or promotion. However, species richness apparently does not work in isolation; it has to work with species mass abundance in either measuring or determining habitat invasibility. A community’s ability to preclude species invasions may be dependent upon a threshold level of both species richness and abundance, below which the importance of species interactions is only a weak force. Comparisons among the major community-types within and among geographic regions in the future can provide new insights for both invasion biology and management.

EFETAC's ROLE: The Eastern Threat Center and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are providing funding for an Eastern Threat Center staff member to conduct research in close collaboration with partners (listed above). Data are shared among collaborators and will be published as peer-reviewed articles or eventually deposited on the Eastern Threat Center's website.

STATUS: Ongoing


Riitters, K., K. Potter, B. Iannone III, C. Oswalt, S. Fei, and Q. Guo. 2018. Landscape correlates of forest plant invasions: A high-resolution analysis across the eastern United States. Diversity and Distributions 24:274-284. (PDF)

Guo, Q., S. Fei, Z. Shen, B.V. Iannone III, J. Knott, and S.L. Chown. 2018. A global analysis of elevational distribution of nonnative vs. native plants. Journal of Biogeography 45:793-803. (PDF)

Nunez-Mir, G.C., A.M. Liebhold, Q. Guo, E.G. Brockerhoff, I. Jo, K. Ordonez, S. Fei. 2017. Biotic resistance in forest ecosystems: facts, artifacts, and moving forward. Biological Invasions 19:3287-3299. (PDF)

Guo, Q. 2017. Temporal changes in native-exotic richness correlations during succession. Acta Oecologica 80:47-50. (PDF)

Guo, Q., B.V. Iannone III, G.C. Nunez-Mir, K.M. Potter, C.M. Oswalt, and S. Fei. 2017. Species pool, human population, and global vs. regional invasion patterns. Landscape Ecology 32:229-238. (PDF)

Iannone III, B., K.M. Potter, Q.F. Guo, A.M. Liebhold 4, B.C. Pijanowski, C. Oswalt. And S.L. Fei, 2016. Biological invasion hotspots: a trait-based perspective reveals new sub-continental patterns. Ecography 39: 961–969. (PDF)

Fei, S., Q.F. Guo, and K.M. Potter. 2016. Macrosystems ecology: Novel methods and new understanding of multi-scale patterns and processes. Landscape Ecology 31:1-6. (special issue: Macrosysytems Ecology). (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. 2015. No consistent small-scale native-exotic relationships. Plant Ecology 216:1225-1230. (PDF)

Iannone III, B., C. Oswalt, A. Liebhold, Q.F. Guo, K.M. Potter, G.C. Nunex-Mir, S.N. Oswalt, B. C. Pijanowski, and S.L. Fei. 2015. Region-specific patterns and drivers of macroscale forest plant invasions. Diversity and Distributions 21:1181–1192. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F., S.L. Fei, J.S. Dukes, C. Oswalt, B.V. Iannone III, and K.M. Potter. 2015. A unified approach for quantifying invasibility and degree of invasion. Ecology 96:2613-221. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. 2015. Island biogeography theory: emerging patterns and human effects. Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. (PDF)

Oswalt, C., S. Oswalt, S.L. Fei, Q.F. Guo, B. Iannone, K. Potter, and B. Pijanowski. 2015. A subcontinental view of forest plant invasions using national inventory data. NeoBiota 24:49-54. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. 2014. Central-marginal population dynamics during species invasions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2:23. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. 2014. Species invasions on islands: searching for general patterns and principles. Landscape Ecology 29:1123–1131. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. and J.D. Olden. 2014. Spatial scaling of non-native fish richness across the United States. PLoS ONE 9(5): e97727. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. 2014. Plant hybridization: the role of human disturbance and exotic invasion. Diversity and Distributions 20:1345–1354. (PDF)

Ren, H., Q.F. Guo, H. Liu, J. Li, Q. Zhang, H. Xu. and F. Xu. 2014. Patterns of alien plant invasion across coastal bay areas in southern china. Journal of Coastal Research 30:448-455. (PDF)

Olatinwo, R., Q.F. Guo, S. Fei, W. Otrosina, K. Klepzig, and D. Streett. 2013. Vulnerability to insects, diseases and invasive plants in relation to climate change. Pages 127-172 in J. Vose and K. Klepzig eds. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Guo, Q.F. and S.P. Norman. 2013. Improving restoration to control plant invasions under climate change. Pages 201-214 in S. Jose, H. Singh, D. Batish, and R. Kohli, eds. Invasive Plant Ecology. CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Guo, Q.F., M. Rejmánek, and J. Wen. 2012. Geographical, socioeconomic, and ecological determinants of exotic plant naturalization in the United States: insights and updates from improved data. NeoBiota 12:41–55. (PDF)

Guo, Q., D.F. Sax, H. Qian, and R. Early. 2012. Latitudinal shifts of introduced species: possible causes and implications. Biological Invasions 14:547-556. (PDF)

Albright, T.P., H. Chen, L. Chen, and Q. Guo. 2010. The ecological niche and reciprocal prediction of the disjunct distribution of an invasive species: the example of Ailanthus altissima. Biological Invasions 12:2413-2427. (PDF)

Guo, Q.F. and R.E. Ricklefs. 2010. Domestic exotics and the perception of invasibility. Diversity & Distribution 16:1034-1039. (PDF)

Miao, S.L., Y. Li, Q.F Guo, H. Yu, J. Ding, F. Yu, J. Liu, X. Zhang, and M. Dong. 2010. Potential alternatives to classical biocontrol: Using native agents in invaded habitats and genetically engineered sterile cultivars for invasive plant management. Tree and Forestry Science and Biotechnology 6:17-21. (Special Issue on Forest Restoration). (PDF)

Ren, H., S. Jian, H. Lu, Q. Zhang, W. Shen, W. Han, Z. Yin, and Q. Guo. 2008. Restoration of mangrove plantations and colonisation by native species in Leizhou bay, South China. Ecological Research 23:401-407. (PDF)

Guo, Q. and A. Symstad. 2008. A two-part measure of degree of invasion for cross-community comparisons. Conservation Biology 22:666-672. (PDF)

Chen, H., L. Chen, J. Li, T.P. Albright, Q. Guo, and L. Ma. 2007. Study on species invasion warning modeling using GIS and data mining. In Wang, Y., J Li, B. Lei, J. Yang, Eds. Remote Sensing and GIS Data Processing and Applications; and Innovative Multispectral Technology and Applications, Proc. SPIE 6790, 7 pp.


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CONTACT: Qinfeng Guo, Eastern Threat Center Research Ecologist, or 919-549-4043

Updated June 2018

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