Different factors influence naturalization and invasion processes – A case study of Indian alien flora provides management insights

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Environmental Management


Why do some alien plants become naturalized, and some naturalized become invasive? Do different factors determine successful naturalization and invasion? Most, if not all, studies addressing these questions have focused either on the part of the invasion continuum or a specific group of alien species. In this study, we aimed to answer these questions for alien plant invasion in India by considering 13 variables related to biogeography, introduction pathways, uses, functional traits, and distribution for 715 species belonging to three invasion categories. We deciphered the variables’ influence on successful naturalization and invasion through a structural equation modeling framework implemented as path analyses and translated the findings to management implications. Our study revealed that the invasive aliens had significantly higher naturalized range size, a greater number of uses, and higher specific leaf area than the naturalized and casual aliens. Path analyses revealed that the native and naturalized range sizes, number of uses, and growth form had a direct influence on naturalization success, whereas longer minimum residence time (MRT) facilitated overcoming of the dispersal barrier for naturalized species. Invasion success was directly influenced by the MRT and number of uses, which were further influenced by the number of native congeners and the naturalized range size, respectively. Plant growth forms indirectly influenced invasion success, whereas the native range sizes had indirect effects on successful naturalization and invasion by strongly influencing the size of the naturalized range. Our findings suggested considering species biogeography in the formulation of quarantine measures, imposing policies to discourage the uses and spread of alien plants within the country, and implementing early control measures, especially for the naturalized aliens. The curated dataset used in this study would also provide a ready reference for future research and decision-making towards the management of alien plant invasion in the country.



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