Dimensions of invasiveness: Links between local abundance, geographic range size, and habitat breadth in Europe's alien and native floras

Trevor S. Fristoe*, Milan Chytrý, Wayne Dawson, Franz Essl, Ruben Heleno, Holger Kreft, Noëlie Maurel, Jan Pergl, Petr Pyšek, Hanno Seebens, Patrick Weigelt, Pablo Vargas, Qiang Yang, Fabio Attorre, Erwin Bergmeier, Markus Bernhardt-Römermann, Idoia Biurrun, Steffen Boch, Gianmaria Bonari, Zoltán Botta-DukátHans Henrik Bruun, Chaeho Byun, Andraz Carni, Maria Laura Carranza, Jane A. Catford, Bruno E.L. Cerabolini, Eduardo Chacón-Madrigal, Daniela Ciccarelli, Renata Cušterevska, Iris De Ronde, Jürgen Dengler, Valentin Golub, Rense Haveman, Nate Hough-Snee, Ute Jandt, Florian Jansen, Anna Kuzemko, Filip Küzmic, Jonathan Lenoir, Armin MacAnovic, Corrado Marcenò, Adam R. Martin, Sean T. Michaletz, Akira S. Mori, Ülo Niinemets, Tomáš Peterka, Remigiusz Pielech, Valerijus Rašomavicius, Solvita Rusina, Arildo S. Dias, Mária Sibíková, Urban Silc, Angela Stanisci, Steven Jansen, Jens Christian Svenning, Grzegorz Swacha, Fons Van Der Plas, Kiril Vassilev, Mark Van Kleunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding drivers of success for alien species can inform on potential future invasions. Recent conceptual advances highlight that species may achieve invasiveness via performance along at least three distinct dimensions: 1) local abundance, 2) geographic range size, and 3) habitat breadth in naturalized distributions. Associations among these dimensions and the factors that determine success in each have yet to be assessed at large geographic scales. Here, we combine data from over one million vegetation plots covering the extent of Europe and its habitat diversity with databases on species' distributions, traits, and historical origins to provide a comprehensive assessment of invasiveness dimensions for the European alien seed plant flora. Invasiveness dimensions are linked in alien distributions, leading to a continuum from overall poor invaders to super invaders - abundant, widespread aliens that invade diverse habitats. This pattern echoes relationships among analogous dimensions measured for native European species. Success along invasiveness dimensions was associated with details of alien species' introduction histories: earlier introduction dates were positively associated with all three dimensions, and consistent with theory-based expectations, species originating from other continents, particularly acquisitive growth strategists, were among the most successful invaders in Europe. Despite general correlations among invasiveness dimensions, we identified habitats and traits associated with atypical patterns of success in only one or two dimensions - for example, the role of disturbed habitats in facilitating widespread specialists. We conclude that considering invasiveness within a multidimensional framework can provide insights into invasion processes while also informing general understanding of the dynamics of species distributions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021173118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Distribution-abundance relationship
  • Enemy release
  • Forms of rarity
  • Invasion success
  • Leaf economic spectrum


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