Spatial pattern of invasion and the evolutionary responses of native plant species

Gisela C. Stotz, Ernesto Gianoli, James F. Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Invasive plant species can have a strong negative impact on the resident native species, likely imposing new selective pressures on them. Altered selective pressures may result in evolutionary changes in some native species, reducing competitive exclusion and allowing for coexistence with the invader. Native genotypes that are able to coexist with strong invaders may represent a valuable resource for management efforts. A better understanding of the conditions under which native species are more, or less, likely to adapt to an invader is necessary to incorporate these eco-evolutionary dynamics into management strategies. We propose that the spatial structure of invasion, in particular the size and isolation of invaded patches, is one factor which can influence the evolutionary responses of native species through modifying gene flow and the strength of selection. We present a conceptual model in which large, dense, and well-connected patches result in a greater likelihood of native species adaptation. We also identify characteristics of the interacting species that may influence the evolutionary response of native species to invasion and outline potential management implications. Identifying areas of rapid evolutionary change may offer one additional tool to managers in their effort to conserve biodiversity in the face of invasion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-951
Number of pages13
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adaptation
  • conservation biology
  • evolutionary theory
  • invasive species
  • natural selection and contemporary evolution
  • species interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial pattern of invasion and the evolutionary responses of native plant species'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this