Tree invasions: a comparative test of the dominant hypotheses and functional traits.
Trees act as ecosystem engineers and invasions by exotic tree species profoundly impact recipient communities. Recently, research on invasive trees has dramatically increased, enabling the assessment of general trends in tree invasion. Analysing 90 studies dealing with 45 invasive tree species, we conducted a quantitative review and a meta-analysis to estimate the relevance of eight leading hypotheses for explaining tree invasions. We also tested whether species functional traits (growth rate, density/cover, germination, biomass and survival) equally promote tree invasiveness. Overall, our results suggest that several hypotheses, linked to invasibility or invasiveness, are pertinent to explain tree invasions. Furthermore, more than one hypothesis has been supported for a given species, which indicates that multiple factors lead to the success of invasive tree species. In addition, growth rate appears to be the most efficient predictor of invasiveness for invasive trees and could thus be used as a means to identify potential alien tree invasions. We conclude that further investigations are needed to test the consistency of some hypotheses across a broader pool of invasive tree species, whilst experimental studies with the same tree species across a larger range of sites would help to reveal the full suite of factors that affect tree invasions.