, Volume 148, Issue 1-2, pp 87-96

The relationship of propagule pressure to invasion potential in plants

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The invasive potential of a species can be assessed by propagule pressure, which measures the chances for propagules of a species to find a suitable habitat for establishment and reproduction. Seeds, fruits, and vegetative structures that contribute to the propagule pressure are morphologically, physiologically and genetically different from one another, thus each kind should have a specific way of contributing to a successful invasion. In this paper we review plant traits that contribute to the propagule pressure. Seed production provides an estimate of the potential multiplication rate of the weed. However, it is gap-sensing mechanisms of seeds based on dormancy termination and germination requirements, which significantly contribute to the naturalization and invasion processes assuring a successful seedling establishment in environments of high competition. Dispersal of propagules reduces competition, mating with a sibling, and subsequent inbreeding depression, and increases colonization opportunities and range of expansion. Some of those benefits can be achieved in a population by existence of dormancy mechanisms and thus, the existence of a seed bank. Finally, vegetative propagation may ensure expansion of local populations when seedling establishment is low. Broadening the scope of traits that are considered in the breeding programs aimed at commercial production of plant propagules, to include those related to propagule pressure, is essential for adequate evaluation of invasive potential.