Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Patterns of plant naturalization show that facultative mycorrhizal plants are more likely to succeed outside their native Eurasian ranges.

Abstract

The naturalization of an introduced species is a key stage during the invasion process. Therefore, identifying the traits that favor the naturalization of non-native species can help understand why some species are more successful when introduced to new regions. The ability and the requirement of a plant species to form a mutualism with mycorrhizal fungi, together with the types of associations formed may play a central role in the naturalization success of different plant species. To test the relationship between plant naturalization success and their mycorrhizal associations we analysed a database composed of mycorrhizal status and type for 1981 species, covering 155 families and 822 genera of plants from Europe and Asia, and matched it with the most comprehensive database of naturalized alien species across the world (GloNAF). In mainland regions, we found that the number of naturalized regions was highest for facultative mycorrhizal, followed by obligate mycorrhizal and lowest for non-mycorrhizal plants, suggesting that the ability of forming mycorrhizas is an advantage for introduced plants. We considered the following mycorrhizal types: arbuscular, ectomycorrhizal, ericoid and orchid mycorrhizal plants. Further, dual mycorrhizal species were those that included observations of arbuscular mycorrhizas as well as observations of ectomycorrhizas. Naturalization success (based on the number of naturalized regions) was highest for arbuscular mycorrhizal and dual mycorrhizal plants, which may be related to the low host specificity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and the consequent high availability of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal partners. However, these patterns of naturalization success were erased in islands, suggesting that the ability to form mycorrhizas may not be an advantage for establishing self-sustaining populations in isolated regions. Taken together our results show that mycorrhizal status and type play a central role in the naturalization process of introduced plants in many regions, but that their effect is modulated by other factors.