Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The invasion ecology of sleeper populations: prevalence, persistence, and abrupt shifts.

Abstract

It is well established that nonnative species are a key driver of global environmental change, but much less is known about the underlying drivers of nonnative species outbreaks themselves. In the present article, we explore the concept and implications of nonnative sleeper populations in invasion dynamics. Such populations persist at low abundance for years or even decades-a period during which they often go undetected and have negligible impact-until they are triggered by an environmental factor to become highly abundant and disruptive. Population irruptions are commonly misinterpreted as a recent arrival of the nonnative species, but sleeper populations belie a more complex history of inconspicuous occurrence followed by an abrupt shift in abundance and ecological impact. In the present article, we identify mechanisms that can trigger their irruption, and the implications for invasive species risk assessment and management.