A global assessment of invasiveness in Araceae: is there a general suite of invasive traits?

A global assessment of invasiveness in Araceae: is there a general suite of invasive traits?
Desika Moodley1,2,3, Şerban Procheş1, John R. Wilson2,3
1School of Environmental Sciences, University of  KwaZulu-Natal; 2Invasive Species ProgrammeSANBI; 3Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University

Significant progress has  been made in understanding biological invasions, with one  of  the key findings being that the determinants of naturalization and invasion success vary from group to group. Here we explore these issues for the Araceae. We determine which species have been introduced outside their native ranges, the pathways of introduction, and which traits separate those species that have been introduced from those that are known to become invasive. To do this we first developed a database of  species  that  have  been  introduced worldwide using  online databases (e.g.  Global Invasive Species Database and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and literature sources (e.g. New Zealand Naturalised vascular plant checklist and Aroideana). We analysed various explanatory variables (e.g. traits associated with morphology, reproduction and distribution) using regression techniques. We then used morphological traits to build a phylogenetic tree showing clades defined by the characters identified as key for invasiveness. This can be used to predict potentially invasive species. Results are discussed in terms of traits that confer invasiveness on a global scale and which are potentially useful for screening taxa. Araceae provide an excellent study group for identifying determinants of invasiveness in herbaceous plants, since this is one of the largest plant families in the world, and among the most popular with horticulturalists, with species occupying various habitats. One of our future aims is to conduct risk assessments using single species and provide management recommendations, and as such we would greatly appreciate locality records of Epipremnum aureum.