Aim Accumulating evidence indicates that species may be pre-adapted for invasion success in new ranges. In the light of increasing global nutrient accumulation, an important candidate pre-adaptation for invasiveness is the ability to grow in nutrient-rich habitats. Therefore we tested whether globally invasive species originating from Central Europe have come from more productive rather than less productive habitats. A further important candidate pre-adaptation for invasiveness is large niche width. Therefore, we also tested whether species able to grow across habitats with a wider range of productivity are more invasive.
Location Global with respect to invasiveness, and Central European with respect to origin of study species.
Methods We examined whether average habitat productivity and its width across habitats are significant predictors of the success of Central European species as aliens and as weeds elsewhere in the world based on data in the Global Compendium of Weeds. The two habitat productivity measures were derived from nutrient indicator values (after Ellenberg) of accompanying species present in vegetation records of the comprehensive Czech National Phytosociological Database. In the analyses, we accounted for phylogenetic relatedness among species and for size of the native distribution ranges.
Results Species from more productive habitats and with a wider native habitat-productivity niche in Central Europe have higher alien success elsewhere in the world. Weediness of species increased with mean habitat productivity. Niche width was also an important determinant of weediness for species with their main occurrence in nutrient-poor habitats, but not for those from nutrient-rich habitats.
Main conclusions Our results indicate that Central European plant species from productive habitats and those species from nutrient-poor habitat with wide productivity-niche are pre-adapted to become invasive. These results suggest that the world-wide invasion success of many Central European species is likely to have been promoted by the global increase of resource-rich habitats.