Questions: Are negative invasion–diversity relationships due to biotic resistance of the invaded plant community or to post-invasion displacement of less competitive species? Do invasion–diversity relationships change with habitat type or resident traits?
Location/species: Lowlands and uplands of western and southern Germany, Heracleum mantegazzianum; mountain range in central Germany, Lupinus polyphyllus; and coastal dunes of northwest Germany, Rosa rugosa.
Methods: We tested the significance and estimated regression slopes of invasion–diversity relationships using generalized linear (mixed effects) models relating invader cover and habitat type to species richness in different plant groups, stratified based on size, life cycle and community association.
Results: We found negative, positive and neutral relationships between invader cover and species richness. There were negative linear correlations of invader cover with small plant species throughout, but no negative linear correlation with tall species. Invasion–diversity relationships tended to be more negative in early-successional habitats, such as dunes or abandoned grasslands, than in late-successional habitats.
Conclusions: Invasion diversity–relationships are complex; they vary among habitat types and among different groups of resident species. Negative invasion–diversity relationships are due to asymmetric competitive displacement of inferior species and not due to biotic resistance. Small species are displaced in early-successional habitats, while there is little effect on persistence of tall species.