Get access

Propagule pressure hypothesis not supported by an 80-year experiment on woody species invasion


M. A. Nuñez, Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, 569 Dabney Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA. E-mail:


Ecological filters and availability of propagules play key roles structuring natural communities. Propagule pressure has recently been suggested to be a fundamental factor explaining the success or failure of biological introductions. We tested this hypothesis with a remarkable data set on trees introduced to Isla Victoria, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina. More than 130 species of woody plants, many known to be highly invasive elsewhere, were introduced to this island early in the 20th century, as part of an experiment to test their suitability as commercial forestry trees for this region. We obtained detailed data on three estimates of propagule pressure (number of introduced individuals, number of areas where introduced, and number of years during which the species was planted) for 18 exotic woody species. We matched these data with a survey of the species and number of individuals currently invading the island. None of the three estimates of propagule pressure predicted the current pattern of invasion. We suggest that other factors, such as biotic resistance, may be operating to determine the observed pattern of invasion, and that propagule pressure may play a relatively minor role in explaining at least some observed patterns of invasion success and failure.