Similar factors underlie tree abundance in forests in native and alien ranges

Masha T. van der Sande*, Helge Bruelheide, Wayne Dawson, Jürgen Dengler, Franz Essl, Richard Field, Sylvia Haider, Mark van Kleunen, Holger Kreft, Joern Pagel, Jan Pergl, Oliver Purschke, Petr Pyšek, Patrick Weigelt, Marten Winter, Fabio Attorre, Isabelle Aubin, Erwin Bergmeier, Milan Chytrý, Matteo DaineseMichele De Sanctis, Jaime Fagundez, Valentin Golub, Greg R. Guerin, Alvaro G. Gutiérrez, Ute Jandt, Florian Jansen, Borja Jiménez-Alfaro, Jens Kattge, Elizabeth Kearsley, Stefan Klotz, Koen Kramer, Marco Moretti, Ülo Niinemets, Robert K. Peet, Josep Penuelas, Petr Petřík, Peter B. Reich, Brody Sandel, Marco Schmidt, Maria Sibikova, Cyrille Violle, Timothy J.S. Whitfeld, Thomas Wohlgemuth, Tiffany M. Knight

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Alien plant species can cause severe ecological and economic problems, and therefore attract a lot of research interest in biogeography and related fields. To identify potential future invasive species, we need to better understand the mechanisms underlying the abundances of invasive tree species in their new ranges, and whether these mechanisms differ between their native and alien ranges. Here, we test two hypotheses: that greater relative abundance is promoted by (a) functional difference from locally co-occurring trees, and (b) higher values than locally co-occurring trees for traits linked to competitive ability. Location: Global. Time period: Recent. Major taxa studied: Trees. Methods: We combined three global plant databases: sPlot vegetation-plot database, TRY plant trait database and Global Naturalized Alien Flora (GloNAF) database. We used a hierarchical Bayesian linear regression model to assess the factors associated with variation in local abundance, and how these relationships vary between native and alien ranges and depend on species’ traits. Results: In both ranges, species reach highest abundance if they are functionally similar to co-occurring species, yet are taller and have higher seed mass and wood density than co-occurring species. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that light limitation leads to strong environmental and biotic filtering, and that it is advantageous to be taller and have denser wood. The striking similarities in abundance between native and alien ranges imply that information from tree species’ native ranges can be used to predict in which habitats introduced species may become dominant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-294
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number2
Early online date1 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • abundance
  • dissimilarity
  • forest
  • functional traits
  • global
  • plant invasion
  • trees

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