In search of the characteristics of plant invaders

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Abstract

A unique attribute of invaders is that they thrive in a country in which they did not evolve. In this chapter, I review the physiological, demographic and genetic attributes of invaders sensu stricto (excluding native weeds or colonists). When compared to similar native species, invaders often have features likely to endow them with higher relative fitness. However, the few available comparisons may constitute a biased sample. Attempts to generalize show that the invasive flora of a country is composed of a large array of plant types and that there are no attributes with which to characterize invaders in general. More specific approaches of invasions, centered on the invaders or the recipient habitats, are reviewed. The need for an approach combining ecolological and evolutionary features of habitats and introduced species is emphasized.