Origin matters: widely distributed native and non-native species benefit from different functional traits


Correspondence: E-mail: sonja.knapp@ufz.de


Recently, ecologists debated whether distinguishing native from non-native species is sensible or not. One argument is that widespread and less widespread species are functionally different, whether or not they are native. An opposing statement points out ecologically relevant differences between native and non-native species. We studied the functional traits that drive native and non-native vascular plant species frequency in Germany by explaining species grid-cell frequency using traits and their interaction with status. Native and non-native species frequency was equally driven by life span, ploidy type and self-compatibility. Non-native species frequency rose with later flowering cessation date, whereas this relationship was absent for native species. Native and non-native species differed in storage organs and in the number of environmental conditions they tolerate. We infer that environmental filters drive trait convergence of native and non-native species, whereas competition drives trait divergence. Meanwhile, introduction pathways functionally bias the frequency of non-native species.