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Do not come late to the party: initial success of nonnative species is contingent on timing of arrival of co-occurring nonnatives


Invasions by multiple nonnative species threaten native communities worldwide. We know that interactions among nonnative species influence nonnative success. However, we know relatively less about the influence of community assembly history on the interactions within nonnative species and thereby invasion success. To investigate this, we transplanted seedlings of two highly invasive shrubs, Rosa rubiginosa (hereafter ‘rose’) and Cytisus scoparius (hereafter ‘broom’), at two different times into mesocosm communities of native and nonnative species. We conducted priority and delay treatments that consisted of the early and late arrival of the invasive shrubs, respectively. We gave full priority/delay to each invasive shrub (rose early/late arrival, broom early/late arrival) and simultaneous priority/delay (simultaneous early/late arrival). We predicted that if assembly history were important, the invasive shrubs will benefit from early-arriving and will be disadvantaged by late-arriving and that arriving before the co-invader shrub will be more beneficial than arriving before the rest of the community. We also predicted that assembly history treatments that gave an advantage to invasive shrubs will more negatively affect native species than nonnative species. We found that the invasive shrubs did not benefit by early-arrival, but they were hindered by the early-arrival of the co-invader. The rose paid a high cost for late-arrival, but the broom was only impaired when its late-arrival implied arriving after the rose. Contrary to our predictions, natives paid a lower cost than nonnatives by arriving late. In general, our mesocosm experiment showed that the success of invasive species depended more on not arriving later than other invaders than on arriving early in the community. We suggest that community assembly history modulates the sign and strength of nonnative species interactions whose consideration might improve management practices.

Resumen en español

Las invasiones de múltiples especies no-nativas amenazan a las comunidades nativas en todo el mundo. Sabemos que las interacciones entre especies no-nativas influyen en su éxito de invasión. Sin embargo, sabemos relativamente menos sobre la influencia de la historia del ensamble de comunidades en las interacciones entre especies no-nativas y, por lo tanto, en el éxito de invasión. Para investigar esto, trasplantamos plántulas de dos arbustos altamente invasores, Rosa rubiginosa (“rosa”) y Cytisus scoparius (“retama”), en dos momentos diferentes en comunidades de mesocosmos de especies nativas y no-nativas. Realizamos tratamientos de prioridad y retraso en la llegada que consistieron en la llegada temprana y tardía de los arbustos invasores, respectivamente. Le dimos prioridad/retraso total a cada especie invasora (llegada temprana/tardía de rosa, llegada temprana/tardía de retama) y prioridad/retraso simultáneo (llegada temprana/tardía simultánea). Predijimos que si la historia de ensamble fuese importante, los arbustos invasores se beneficiarán al llegar temprano y se perjudicarán al llegar tarde, y que llegar antes que el arbusto co-invasor será más beneficioso que llegar antes que el resto de la comunidad. También predijimos que los tratamientos de historia de ensamble que beneficien a los arbustos invasores afectarán más negativamente a las especies nativas que a las no-nativas. Encontramos que los arbustos invasores no se beneficiaron con la llegada temprana, pero se perjudicaron por la llegada temprana del arbusto co-invasor. La rosa pagó un costo alto por llegar tarde, pero la retama solo fue afectada cuando su llegada tardía implicó llegar después de la rosa. Contrariamente a nuestras predicciones, las especies nativas pagaron un costo menor que las especies no-nativas al llegar tarde. En general, nuestro experimento de mesocosmos mostró que el éxito de las especies invasoras dependió en mayor medida de no llegar más tarde que otras especies invasoras que de llegar temprano a la comunidad. Sugerimos que la historia de ensamble modula el signo y la fuerza de las interacciones no-nativas, cuya comprensión puede mejorar las prácticas de manejo.

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Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study is included in the Online Resource 10.

Code availability

The code of the models is available in the Online Resource 9.


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We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their input to improve this manuscript. We thank Patricia Suárez, Luciana Ammassari, and Nicolás Robredo for assistance with the greenhouse and laboratory activities, and Ariel Mayoral, Pablo Alvear, Pirén Lopez-Alaniz, and Melisa Blackhall for help with propagule collection. We also thank Mirkka Jones, Otso Ovaskainen, and the HMSC team for insightful assistance on several aspects of data analysis. The drawings of the plant species were made by Fernando Ballejo.


This work was done during a doctoral research position at Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET, Argentina) of AT.

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AT, MAN and MARC conceived and designed the study. AT led the study and conducted the experiment, data processing, and data analysis. AT wrote the original draft of the manuscript; all authors wrote, reviewed and edited the article and gave final approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Agostina Torres.

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Mariano A. Rodríguez-Cabal and Martín A. Núñez were senior authors.

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Torres, A., Rodríguez-Cabal, M.A. & Núñez, M.A. Do not come late to the party: initial success of nonnative species is contingent on timing of arrival of co-occurring nonnatives. Biol Invasions 24, 557–573 (2022).

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  • Community assembly
  • Exotic invasion
  • Historical contingencies
  • Patagonia
  • Priority effects
  • Restoration

Palabras clave

  • Ensamble de comunidades
  • Invasión de especies exóticas
  • Contingencias históricas
  • Patagonia
  • Efectos de prioridad
  • Restauración