Differences in evolutionary history translate into differences in invasion success of alien mammals in South Africa

Authors

  • Kowiyou Yessoufou,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Florida campus, Florida, South Africa
    • Correspondence

      Kowiyou Yessoufou, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Florida campus, Florida 1710, South Africa. Tel: +27 11 471 3784; Fax: +27 11 471 2866;

      E-mails: kowiyouyessoufou1@gmail.com;yessok@unisa.ac.za

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jephris Gere,

    1. African Centre for DNA Barcoding, University of Johannesburg, APK Campus, Auckland Park, South Africa
    2. Department of Biological Sciences, Bindura University of Science Education, Bindura, Private Bag, Zimbabwe
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Barnabas H. Daru,

    1. African Centre for DNA Barcoding, University of Johannesburg, APK Campus, Auckland Park, South Africa
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michelle van der Bank

    1. African Centre for DNA Barcoding, University of Johannesburg, APK Campus, Auckland Park, South Africa
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Attempts to investigate the drivers of invasion success are generally limited to the biological and evolutionary traits distinguishing native from introduced species. Although alien species introduced to the same recipient environment differ in their invasion intensity – for example, some are “strong invaders”; others are “weak invaders” – the factors underlying the variation in invasion success within alien communities are little explored. In this study, we ask what drives the variation in invasion success of alien mammals in South Africa. First, we tested for taxonomic and phylogenetic signal in invasion intensity. Second, we reconstructed predictive models of the variation in invasion intensity among alien mammals using the generalized linear mixed-effects models. We found that the family Bovidae and the order Artiodactyla contained more “strong invaders” than expected by chance, and that such taxonomic signal did not translate into phylogenetic selectivity. In addition, our study indicates that latitude, gestation length, social group size, and human population density are only marginal determinant of the variation in invasion success. However, we found that evolutionary distinctiveness – a parameter characterising the uniqueness of each alien species – is the most important predictive variable. Our results indicate that the invasive behavior of alien mammals may have been “fingerprinted” in their evolutionary past, and that evolutionary history might capture beyond ecological, biological and life-history traits usually prioritized in predictive modeling of invasion success. These findings have applicability to the management of alien mammals in South Africa.

Ancillary