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A null model of temporal trends in biological invasion records

Authors

  • Marjorie J. Wonham,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Centre for Mathematical Biology, University of Alberta, CAB 632, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2G1
      * E-mail: mwonham@ualberta.ca
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  • Elizaveta Pachepsky

    1. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
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* E-mail: mwonham@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Biological invasions are a growing aspect of global biodiversity change. In many regions, introduced species richness increases supralinearly over time. This does not, however, necessarily indicate increasing introduction rates or invasion success. We develop a simple null model to identify the expected trend in invasion records over time. For constant introduction rates and success, the expected trend is exponentially increasing. Model extensions with varying introduction rate and success can also generate exponential distributions. We then analyse temporal trends in aquatic, marine and terrestrial invasion records. Most data sets support an exponential distribution (15/16) and the null invasion model (12/16). Thus, our model shows that no change in introduction rate or success need be invoked to explain the majority of observed trends. Further, an exponential trend does not necessarily indicate increasing invasion success or ‘invasional meltdown’, and a saturating trend does not necessarily indicate decreasing success or biotic resistance.

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