, Volume 169, Issue 4, pp 1075–1081 | Cite as

Grouping plant species by shared native range, and not by native status, predicts response to an exotic herbivore

Community ecology - Original research


Differences among exotic species can be as large as differences between native and exotic species. Typically, however, only the distinction between native and exotic is made when predicting responses in a community. In this paper, I examine the response of plant species to experimental disturbance and exclusion of invasive European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in a grassland community with exotic plants originating from five continents. I explore group responses based on native status, shared native range with rabbits, having a congener from the native range of rabbits, life-history (e.g., annual), and life-form (e.g., grass). Individual species responses to rabbits were idiosyncratic, but group responses were predicted by continent of origin, not native status. Native status did predict response to disturbance with almost uniform responses within groups. Exotic species, regardless of origin, were positively affected by disturbance. Native species, in contrast, were negatively affected by disturbance. These results suggest that grouping plant species by native status is valid for questions of disturbance, but when analyzing outcomes of interactions, factors other than native status, such as shared evolutionary history, should be considered.


Origin Evolutionary history Exotic Grassland Multi-origin 



I thank T. Wootton for advice, editing, and support, P. Amaresekare, J. Bergelson, G. Dwyer, J. M. Fariña, C. Pfister, T. Price, the Pfootton lab and TMACE for helpful input through all stages of this project and C. Boggs, T. Fukami, P. Kotanen, D. Sax, J. Silander, the Fukami lab, the Gordon lab, and anonymous reviewers for comments on this manuscript. I also thank A. Jahns, C. Tramolao, S. Martinez, M. Ramirez, A. Opagina, A. B. Valenzuela, T. Valderrama, U. Choupay, D. Lesh, H. Ruggiero, N. Rubio, C. Kroeger, N. Emery, M. Glaser, F. Aguillar, E. Rivas, S. Jones, N. Smith, K. Davis, and T. Orozco for assistance in the field and to T. Chiatovich, N. Simon, W. Fithian, J. Byrnes, R. Olshen, and the Stanford Statistical Consultation spring and summer classes for statistical and programming advice. Thanks to D. Gordon, R. Dirzo, T. Fukami, and P. Garfin for their intellectual support. Thanks also to CONAF, especially J. Meza, I. Leiva, and the guardaparques for support in the field; and to CASEB, especially V. Reyna and the Fariña lab for support in Santiago, Chile. The experiments comply with current laws in both Chile and the USA where fieldwork and analysis were conducted, respectively. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and NSF grants 011780, 10456110, 0452687, and 0708462; by the ARCS Foundation Chicago; by the University of Chicago Hinds Fund; by Sigma Xi; by Rotary One and the Southeast Chicago Rotary Club; and by personal funds.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 4457 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Committee on Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Gordon Laboratory, Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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