Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1519–1531 | Cite as

Investigation of Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis in invaded macrophyte communities

  • Jonathan P. Fleming
  • Eric D. Dibble
  • John D. Madsen
  • Ryan M. Wersal
Original Paper


Although native macrophytes are beneficial in aquatic ecosystems, invasive macrophytes can cause significant ecological and economic harm. Numerous studies have attributed invasiveness to species’ characteristics, whereas others attribute invasion to biotic and abiotic characteristics of the invaded community. It has been suggested that studying the link between invader and invaded community is key to understanding invasiveness, and that invasions can be understood through the framework of community ecology theory. Charles Darwin hypothesized that introduced species would be less likely to naturalize in areas containing closely related species [Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis (DNH)], suggesting competition between closely related species could limit naturalization potential (phylogenetic repulsion). The goal of this research was to test DNH using two species of highly invasive aquatic plants, Myriophyllum spicatum L. and Potamogeton crispus L., and assess whether results were consistent at small and large scales. Twenty-nine lakes containing invasive macrophytes were surveyed between 1997 and 2011. Invasive P. crispus occurred in 15 lakes and M. spicatum occurred in 19 lakes. There were 15 native Potamogeton species and 4 Myriophyllum. We used generalized linear mixed models with congeneric species richness data to estimate probability of invasive P. crispus or M. spicatum occupying a given sampling location. Contrary to predictions of DNH, the relationship between congeneric richness and presence of P. crispus at point and lake scales was positive. Unlike models for P. crispus, native Myriophyllum genera richness was not a significant model parameter. These results do not support DNH (the expectation of a negative relationship); furthermore, models had relatively low determination coefficients indicating very little explained variation. Although this study found no evidence for DNH, there is still a need to investigate how community assembly processes influence species invasions.


Aquatic plants Niche theory Biodiversity Myriophyllum spicatum Potamogeton crispus 



We would like to thank all individuals that contributed time and effort in collecting plant data. We would also like to thank Gary Ervin and Jerry Belant for reviewing earlier versions, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that significantly improved this manuscript.


  1. Ailstock MS, Norman CM, Bushmann PJ (2001) Common reed Phragmites australis: control and effects on biodiversity in freshwater nontidal wetlands. Restor Ecol 9:49–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angeloni NL, Jankowski JK, Tuchman NC, Kelly JJ (2006) Effects of an invasive cattail species (Typha×glauca) on sediment nitrogen and microbial community composition in a freshwater wetland. FEMS Microbiol Lett 263:86–92CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bolduan BR, Van Eeckhout GC, Quade HW, Gannon JE (1994) Potamogeton crispus: the other invader. Lake Reserv Manag 10:113–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boylan CW, Eichler LW, Madsen JD (1999) Loss of native aquatic plant species in a community dominated by Eurasian watermilfoil. Hydrobiologia 415:207–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodal inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  6. Cadotte MW, Murray BR, Lovett-Doust J (2006) Ecological patterns and biological invasions: using regional species inventories in macroecology. Biol Invasions 8:809–821CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caraco NF, Cole JJ (2002) Contrasting impacts of a native and alien macrophyte on dissolved oxygen in a large river. Ecol Appl 12:1496–1509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Catling PM, Dobson I (1985) The biology of Canadian weeds. 69. Potamogeton crispus L. Can J Plant Sci 65:655–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cavender-Bares J, Kitajima K, Bazzaz FA (2004) Phylogenetic overdispersion in Floridian oak communities. Am Nat 163:823–843CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cavender-Bares J, Kozak KH, Fine PVA, Kembel SW (2009) The merging of community ecology and phylogenetic biology. Ecol Lett 12:693–715CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Chadwell TB, Engelhardt AM (2008) Effects of pre-existing submersed vegetation and propagule pressure on the invasion success of Hydrilla verticillata. J Appl Ecol 45:515–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheruvelil KS, Soranno PA, Madsen JD, Roberson MJ (2002) Plant architecture and epiphytic macroinvertebrate communities: the role of an exotic dissected macrophyte. J N Am Benthol Soc 21:261–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daehler CC (2001) Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis revisited. Am Nat 158:324–330CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Darwin C (1859) On the origin of species by means of natural selection. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Development Core Team R (2012) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  16. Dodds WK (2009) Laws, theories, and patterns in ecology. University of California Press, Oakland, CACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fargione J, Brown CS, Tilman D (2003) Community assembly and invasion: an experimental test of neutral versus niche processes. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100:8916–8920CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fleming JF (2012) Mechanisms and patterns of invasion in macrophyte communities. Dissertation, Mississippi State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  19. Fridley JD, Stachowicz JJ, Naeem S, Sax DF, Seabloom EW, Smith MD, Stohlgren TJ, Tilman D, Von Holle B (2007) The invasion paradox: reconciling pattern and process in species invasions. Ecology 88:3–17CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gravel D, Canham CD, Beaudet M, Messier C (2006) Reconciling niche and neutrality: the continuum hypothesis. Ecol Lett 9:399–409CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Havel JE, Lee CE, Zanden MJV (2005) Do reservoirs facilitate invasions into landscapes? Bioscience 55:518–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Houlahan JE, Findlay CS (2004) Effect of invasive plant species on temperate wetland plant diversity. Conserv Biol 18:1132–1138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hubbell SP (2001) The unified neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography. Princeton monographs in population biology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  24. Jacobs MJ, Macisaac HJ (2009) Modelling spread of the invasive macrophyte Cabomba caroliniana. Freshw Biol 54:296–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. James WF, Barko JW, Eakin HL, Sorge PW (2002) Phosphorus budget and management strategies for an urban Wisconsin lake. Lake Reserv Manag 18:149–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jiang L, Tan J, Pu Z (2010) An experimental test of Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis. Am Nat 175:415–423CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnson PTJ, Olden JD, Vander-Zanden MJ (2008) Dam invaders: impoundments facilitate biological invasions into freshwaters. Front Ecol Environ 6:357–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keast A (1984) The introduced macrophyte, Myriophyllum spicatum, as a habitat for fish and their invertebrate prey. Can J Zool 62:1289–1303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kennedy TA, Naeem S, Howe KM, Knops JMH, Tilman D, Reich P (2002) Biodiversity as a barrier to ecological invasion. Nature 417:636–638CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kolar CS, Lodge DM (2001) Progress in invasion biology: predicting invaders. Trends Ecol Evol 16:199–204CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Lambdon PW, Hulme PE (2006) How strongly do interactions with closely-related native species influence plant invasions? Darwin’s naturalization hypothesis assessed on Mediterranean islands. J Biogeogr 33:1116–1125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levine JM (2000) Species diversity and biological invasions: relating local processes to community pattern. Science 288:761–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lillie RA, Budd J (1992) Habitat architecture of Myriophyllum spicatum as an index to habitat quality for fish and macroinvertebrates. J Freshw Ecol 7:113–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. MacArthur RH, Levins R (1967) The limiting similarity, convergence, and divergence of coexisting species. Am Nat 101:377–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. MacDougall AS, Gilbert B, Levine JM (2009) Plant invasions and the niche. J Ecol 97:609–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Madsen JD (1997) Methods for management of nonindigenous aquatic plants, Ch. 12. In: Luken JO, Thieret JW (eds) Assessment and management of plant invasions. Springer, Berlin, pp 145–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Madsen JD (1999) Point intercept and line intercept methods for aquatic plant management. APCRP Technical Notes Collection (TN APCRP-M1-02). US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MSGoogle Scholar
  38. Madsen JD, Hartleb CF, Boylen CW (1991a) Photosynthetic characteristics of Myriophyllum spicatum and six submersed macrophyte species native to Lake George, New York. Freshw Biol 26:233–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Madsen JD, Sutherland JW, Bloomfield JA, Eichler LW, Boylen CW (1991b) The decline of native vegetation under dense Eurasian watermilfoil canopies. J Aquat Plant Manag 29:94–99Google Scholar
  40. Madsen JD, Stewart RM, Getsinger KD, Johnson RL, Wersal RM (2008) Aquatic plant communities in Waneta Lake and Lamoka Lake, New York. Northeast Nat 15:97–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Moody ML, Les DH (2007) Geographic distribution and genotypic composition of invasive hybrid water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum × M. sibiricum) populations in North America. Biol Invasions 9:559–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nichols SA, Shaw BH (1986) Ecological life histories of the three aquatic nuisance plants, Myriophyllum spicatum, Potamogeton crispus, and Elodea Canadensis. Hydrobiologia 131:3–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Proches S, Wilson JRU, Richardson DM, Rejmanek M (2008) Searching for phylogenetic pattern in biological invasions. Global Ecol Biogr 17:5–10Google Scholar
  44. Ricciardi A, Atkinson SK (2004) Distinctiveness magnifies the impact of biological invaders in aquatic ecosystems. Ecol Lett 7:781–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shea K, Chesson P (2002) Community ecology theory as a framework for biological invasions. Trends Ecol Evol 17:170–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stohlgren TJ, Barnett DT, Kartesz JT (2003) The rich get richer: patterns of plant invasions in the United States. Front Ecol Environ 1:11–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Strauss SY, Webb CO, Salamin N (2006) Exotic taxa less related to native species are more invasive. Proc Nat Acad Sci 103:5841–5845CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Strayer DL (2010) Alien species in fresh waters: ecological effects, interactions with other stressors, and prospects for the future. Freshw Biol 55:152–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Templer P, Findlay S, Wigand C (1998) Sediment chemistry associated with native and non-native emergent macrophytes of a Hudson River marsh ecosystem. Wetlands 18:70–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Theel HJ, Dibble ED (2008) An experimental simulation of an exotic aquatic macrophyte invasion and its influence on foraging behavior of bluegill. J Freshw Ecol 23:79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thomas PA, Room PM (1986) Taxonomy and control of Salvinia molesta. Nature 320:581–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thomaz SM, Michelan TS (2011) Associations between a highly invasive species and native macrophytes differ across spatial scales. Biol Invasions 13:1881–1891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Valley RD, Bremigan MT (2002) Effects of macrophyte bed architecture on largemouth bass foraging: implications of exotic macrophyte invasions. Trans Am Fish Soc 131:234–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wilson JB (2007) Trait-divergence assembly rules have been demonstrated: limiting similarity lives! A reply to Grime. J Veg Sci 18:451–452Google Scholar
  55. Woolf TE, Madsen JD (2003) Seasonal biomass and carbohydrate allocation patterns in southern Minnesota curlyleaf pondweed populations. J Aquat Plant Manag 41:113–118Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan P. Fleming
    • 1
  • Eric D. Dibble
    • 2
  • John D. Madsen
    • 3
  • Ryan M. Wersal
    • 4
  1. 1.University of North Alabama (UNA)FlorenceUSA
  2. 2.Mississippi StateUSA
  4. 4.AlpharettaUSA

Personalised recommendations