All in the Family:
All in the Family:
Relatedness and the Success of Introduced Species
Each species has a unique evolutionary history, and the spread of non-native organisms brings together species that have been evolving separately. The ability of these non-native species to establish in their new ecosystem depends largely on their attributes built up during their evolution. These attributes are often shared among closely related species. In contrast, closely related species that evolve together are driven to rapidly diverge so that competition between species is reduced. Given the different ways in which evolution shapes interactions among species, we expect patterns of relatedness among non-native species to be a better predictor of success than for the natives in the same region. That is, closely-related non-native species should be more likely to show correlated responses to environmental conditions and to fill out the same geographical or niche space; while natives should be more specialized and relatedness less important for current ecological patterns. We review this conceptual model and published papers that address our hypothesis. We show that successful introduced species tend to come from relatively few groups of closely-related species. Invasive species risk assessment schemes evaluate the potential of non-native species to become invasive, and many cite being closely related to a problematic introduced species as cause for concern.
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