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The detrimental effects of invasive plant species on ecosystems are well documented. While much research has focused on discovering ecological influences associated with invasiveness, it remains unclear how these influences interact, causing some introduced exotic species to become invasive threats. Here we develop a framework that incorporates the influences of propagule pressure, frequency independent growth rates, feedback relationships, resource competition and spatial scale of interactions. Our results show that these ecological influences interact in complex ways, resulting in expected outcomes ranging from inability to establish, to naturalization, to conditional invasion dependent on quantity and spatial...
Woody plant encroachment is affecting vegetation composition in arid grasslands worldwide and has been associated with a number of environmental drivers and feedbacks. It has been argued that the relatively abrupt character (both in space and in time) of grassland-to-shrubland transitions observed in many drylands around the world might result from positive feedbacks in the underlying ecosystem dynamics. In the case of the Chihuahuan Desert, we show that one such feedback could emerge from interactions between vegetation and microclimate conditions. Shrub establishment modifies surface energy fluxes, causing an increase in nighttime air temperature, particularly during wintertime. The resulting change in winter...