, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 271-281
Date: 26 May 2009

Ecological explanations for successful invasion of exotic plants

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Abstract

The intentional introduction of exotic species can increase the level of local biodiversity, enrich people’s material lives, and bring significant social and economic benefits that are also the symbols of human progress. However, along with the frequent intercourse among countries and regions, the frequency of uncontrolled crossregional migration of species is increased and there is a lack of scientific management strategy for the intentional introduction of exotic species. Exotic species invasion, which is behind habitat fragmentation, has become the second largest threatening factor to the maintenance of the global-scale level of biological diversity. Exotic species invasion can destroy the structure of an ecosystem, disturb the economic life of a society, and do harm to human health. In this paper, the authors review some of the ecological explanations for issues such as “what causes or mechanisms have led to the successful invasion of exotic species”, including the “ideal weeds characteristics”, “biodiversity resistance hypothesis”, “enemies release hypothesis”, “evolution of increased competitive ability hypothesis”, “niche opportunity hypothesis”, and “novel weapon hypothesis”. The authors also analyze and evaluate the background and theoretical basis of the hypotheses, providing explanations for some phenomena, as well as the deficiencies of these explanations.