Introduced non-native mangroves express better growth performance than co-occurring native mangroves.
Mangroves are salt-tolerant woody species occurring in tropical/subtropical coastal habitats. Plantation of fast-growing non-native mangrove species has been used as a tool for mangrove restoration/reforestation in several countries. However, the fast-growth ability can make recently introduced species invasive as they can possibly replace co-occurring native mangroves through expressing higher growth performance and phenotypic plasticity. Therefore, quantifying growth differences between native versus non-native mangrove species is important for forest ecology and management. In this meta-analysis, we compared the growth performance of non-native and native mangrove species pairs by analysing all available results in the literature (33 studies). We found that non-native mangrove species performed better than co-occurring native mangrove species in their introduced regions (Log response ratio=0.51 ± 0.05) and they also expressed higher trait plasticity. Therefore, these species can be potentially invasive owing to their greater competitive advantage. However, the growth difference was diminished at higher latitudes where native mangrove species seem to perform as well as non-native mangrove species do. This is the first meta-analysis on the growth response of mangroves and it has consequential management implications. We suggest that planting of non-native mangrove species should be avoided and their spread should be monitored.