Opposing macroevolutionary and trait-mediated patterns of threat and naturalisation in flowering plants.
Due to expanding global trade and movement of people, new plant species are establishing in exotic ranges at increasing rates while the number of native species facing extinction from multiple threats grows. Yet, how species losses and gains globally may, together, be linked to traits and macroevolutionary processes is poorly understood. Here, we show that, adjusting for diversification rate and clade age, the proportion of threatened species across flowering plant families is negatively related to the proportion of naturalised species per family. Moreover, naturalisation is positively associated with range size, short generation time, autonomous seed production and interspecific hybridisation, but negatively with age and diversification, whereas threat is negatively associated with range size and hybridisation, and positively with biotic pollination, age and diversification rate. That we find such a pronounced signature of naturalisation and threat across plant families suggests that both trait syndromes have coexisted over deep evolutionary time and counter to intuition, that neither strategy is necessarily superior to the other over long evolutionary timespans.