, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 809-821

Ecological Patterns and Biological Invasions: Using Regional Species Inventories in Macroecology

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Abstract

Macroecology depends heavily on a comparative methodology in order to identify large-scale patterns and to test alternative hypotheses that might generate such patterns. With the advent and accessibility of large electronic databases of species and their life history and ecological attributes, ecologists have begun seeking generalities, and examining large-scale ecological hypotheses involving core themes of range, abundance and diversity. For example, combinations of ecological, life history and phylogenetic data have been analysed using large species sets to test hypotheses in invasion biology. Analysis of regional species inventories can contribute cogently to our understanding of invasions. Here we examine several ways in which database analysis is effective. We review 19 studies of comparative invasions biology, each using >100 species of plants in their analyses, and show that invader success is linked to seven correlates: short life cycle, abiotic (mostly wind) dispersal, large native range size, non-random taxonomic patterns (emphasizing certain families or orders), presence of clonal organs, occupying disturbed habitats, and earlier time of introduction. These phylogenetically influenced, comparative analyses using regional species inventories are only just beginning and have much potential.