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Title: The comparative demography of invasive plants
Author: Jelbert, K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 7373
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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Biodiversity, ecosystems, industry and human health are threatened by invasive plant species. The costs of mitigating damages run into billions of pounds per annum. Fundamental to the control of invasive plant species is an ability to predict which species will become invasive. Yet identification of predictive differences between invasive and non-invasive species has proven difficult to pinpoint. In this thesis I identify several weaknesses within published literature, and using field experiments and meta-analyses we address these to find consistent predictors of invasiveness amongst plants. Specifically, I recognize that predictors of invasiveness can be identified by studying plant species in the native range because species may undergo phenotypic and demographic changes following naturalization (Chapters 2 – 5). I also recognize the importance of comparing globally invasive and non-invasive species, and the importance of accounting for phylogenetic relationships so as not to inflate or conceal differences (Chapters 2 – 4). Finally, I investigate whether particular analyses are more appropriate for investigating life history and demographic differences (Chapter 5). This thesis comprises an introductory chapter (Chapter 1), four data chapters (Chapters 2 - 5) and a general discussion (Chapter 6). Chapters 2 and 3 compare life history traits of plant species known to be invasive elsewhere, with their exported but non-invasive sympatric relatives in the native range. Chapter 4 utilizes Population Projection Matrices held within the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, to compare demographic projections of stable and transient dynamics of invasive and non-invasive plants; and Chapter 5 compares ten metrics, derived from Population Projection Matrices, of seven invasive species between the native and invaded range to determine if there are demographic or life history differences that facilitate invasion, and to identify those analyses that are most likely to reveal such differences. I find reproductive capacity to be a predictor of invasiveness, and that analyses of transient dynamics are more likely than analyses of projected stable dynamics to reveal demographic or life history differences between invasive and non-invasive species or populations of plants. I discuss these findings in the context of invasive risk assessment protocols and highlight future research opportunities.
Supervisor: Hodgson, D. ; McDonald, R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Invasive Plant ; Demography ; Fecundity ; Seed mass ; Demographic inertia ; Stable Population Growth Rate ; Native Range