Biodiversity Science ›› 2010, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (6): 559-568.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.2010.559

Special Issue: Biological Invasions: Mechanisms Impacts and Management;

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Whole-range studies on alien plant invasion: recent progress and future prospects

Hongyu Niu1, 2; Hao Shen1; Wanhui Ye1*   

  1. 1South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650

    2Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2010-05-10 Online:2011-01-31
  • Wanhui Ye

The regions invaded by alien species are normally disjunct from their native ranges, so it is difficult to understand the reasons for successful invasion through studies conducted only in native or invasive ranges. Many researchers have engaged in whole-range studies of invasive species, i.e. studying the exotics both in their introduced and native ranges, in order to explain the present geographical patterns and invasion mechanisms of alien plants. Here, we review progress in whole-range studies on invasive plants by summarizing their main contents, achievements and significance. We also point out the problems and shortcomings of existing studies and provide prospects for further studies. There are two main approaches in whole-range studies: (1) comparison of phenotypic traits (e.g. growth, reproduction, and ecophysiology) between invasive and native populations through direct observation and common garden experiments; (2) genetic diversity analysis and phylogeographic research using molecular markers. Such studies have tested major hypotheses of plant invasion mechanisms, and provided advice for management and control of invasive plants. However, the methods and contents of existing whole-range studies are imperfect, and further improvements based on increased international cooperation are needed.

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