Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 299–312 | Cite as

The invasion triangle in the range dynamics of invasive species following successful establishment

  • Justin S. H. WanEmail author
  • Susan Rutherford
  • Stephen P. Bonser
Ideas & Perspectives


A wide range of factors drive the processes responsible for range dynamics following a successful invasion. These drive changes to the demographic and genetic qualities of the invasive species, potentially with long-term consequences. The invasion triangle encapsulates the complexity of the processes by organizing these factors into three major components: invader, site biotic characteristics, and environment. The invasion triangle is analogous to the disease triangle, which is foundational to the field of plant pathology. Yet, in the field of biological invasions, the model has been underutilised. By incorporating various factors attributed to invasions into the three components, the invasion triangle can be an invaluable tool in explaining both the success and collapse of invasive ranges. Here, we introduce a new interpretation of the invasion triangle that explicitly considers changes with time, and apply it to explain the changes in invasive species ranges. There is mounting evidence that invasiveness tends to reduce following successful initial invasion, particularly after an exponential increase in population. Drawing from the attributes of invaders and the observed changes in the ranges of invasive taxa, we explore different types of dynamics in the context of the invasion triangle. The new invasion triangle can form the basis for predicting change to invasive ranges, and should also prove useful in directing future research and management.


Population genetics Range expansion Non-native Phenotypic plasticity Genetic assimilation Dispersal 



The authors are very grateful to the two anonymous reviewers who provided helpful comments that improved this work. We thank Carla Sgrò and Jake M Alexander for their helpful comments on the thesis of JSHW that inspired this work. Thank you to Edward CY Liew for the detailed introduction to the disease triangle.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUNSW AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain TrustSydneyAustralia

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