In the search to identify factors that make some plant species troublesome invaders, many studies have compared various measures of native and alien invasive plant performance. These comparative studies provide insights into the more general question “Do alien invasive plants usually outperform co-occurring native species, and to what degree does the answer depend on growing conditions?” Based on 79 independent native-invasive plant comparisons, the alien invaders were not statistically more likely to have higher growth rates, competitive ability, or fecundity. Rather, the relative performance of invaders and co-occurring natives often depended on growing conditions. In 94% of 55 comparisons involving more than one growing condition, the native's performance was equal or superior to that of the invader, at least for some key performance measures in some growing conditions. Most commonly, these conditions involved reduced resources (nutrients, light, water) and/or specific disturbance regimes. Independently of growing conditions, invaders were more likely to have higher leaf area and lower tissue construction costs (advantageous under high light and nutrient conditions) and greater phenotypic plasticity (particularly advantageous in disturbed environments where conditions are in frequent flux). There appear to be few “super invaders” that have universal performance advantages over co-occurring natives; rather, increased resource availability and altered disturbance regimes associated with human activities often differentially increase the performance of invaders over that of natives.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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