New publication on lag phases in plant invasions

Philipp Robeck and colleagues from GloNAF – among them Franz Essl – recently published an exciting study in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Successful alien species may experience a period of quiescence, known as the lag phase, before becoming invasive and widespread. The existence of lags introduces severe uncertainty in risk analyses of aliens as the present state of species is a poor predictor of future distributions, invasion success and impact. Using herbarium and climate data, they analysed over 5,700 time series (species ×regions) in 3,505 naturalized plant species from nine regions in temperate and tropical climates to quantify lags and test whether there have been shifts in the species’ climatic space during the transition from the lag phase to the expansion phase. Lags were identified in 35% of the assessed invasion events. For 98% of the species with a lag phase, the climate spaces sampled during the lag period differed from those in the expansion phase based on the assessment of centroid shifts or degree of climate space overlap. This results highlight the importance of functional traits for the onset of the expansion phase and suggest that climate discovery may play a role in terminating the lag phase.

Check out the full publication here.