Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Structuring evidence for invasional meltdown: broad support but with biases and gaps.

Abstract

Negative interactions have been suggested as a major barrier for species arriving in a new habitat. More recently, positive interactions drew attention from community assembly theory and invasion science. The invasional meltdown hypothesis (IMH) introduced the idea that positive interactions among non-native species could facilitate one another's invasion, even increasing their impact upon the native community. Many studies have addressed IMH, but with contrasting results, reflecting various types of evidence on a multitude of scales. Here we use the hierarchy-of-hypotheses (HoH) approach to differentiate key aspects of IMH, organizing and linking empirical studies to sub-hypotheses of IMH. We also assess the level of empirical support for each sub-hypothesis based on the evidence reported in the studies. We identified 150 studies addressing IMH. The majority of studies support IMH, but the evidence comes from studies with different aims and questions. Supporting studies at the community or ecosystem level are currently rare. Evidence is scarce for marine habitats and vertebrates. Few sub-hypotheses are questioned by more than 50% of the evaluated studies, indicating that non-native species do not affect each other's survival, growth, reproduction, abundance, density or biomass in reciprocal A←→B interactions. With the HoH for IMH presented here, we can monitor progress in empirical tests and evidences of IMH. For instance, more tests at the community and ecosystem level are needed, as these are necessary to address the core of this hypothesis.