A phylogenetically controlled analysis of the roles of reproductive traits in plant invasions

Jean H. Burns, Tia Lynn Ashman, Janette A. Steets, Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, Tiffany M. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reproductive traits are tightly linked to plant fitness and may therefore be mechanisms driving biological invasions, including the greater success of more phylogenetically novel introduced species in some systems. We present a phylogenetic comparative analysis of "Baker's law", that introduced plants with the ability to reproduce autogamous or asexually may be better able to establish on introduction. We gathered data from both published and unpublished sources on pollen limitation of 141 species, including 26 introduced species and 115 native species. Our analysis compared differences in the proportion of autonomous autogamy, asexual reproduction, and pollen limitation among native, introduced noninvasive, and introduced invasive plant species, and included the phylogenetic novelty of the introduced species to the native species in that community. Introduced species were more likely to be autogamous than native species, consistent with Baker's law. On the other hand, introduced species were less likely to have the ability to reproduce asexually. Further, among species with no autonomous autogamy, pollen limitation was greater for introduced compared to native species. Such a result is consistent with the idea that plants entering a new continent receive lower quality or quantity of services from resident pollinators than species native to that continent. Finally, more phylogenetically novel invasive species had lower pollen limitation than less novel invasive species, potentially because they experience less competition for pollinators. This is the first evidence that enhanced pollination may be one mechanism driving the greater invasiveness of phylogenetically novel introduced species observed in some systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1017
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Baker's law
  • Darwin's naturalization hypothesis
  • Invasive species
  • Phylogenetic novelty
  • Pollen limitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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