Effect of residence time on trait evolution in invasive plants: review and meta-analysis

Michal Gruntman*, Udi Segev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The success of invasive species is often attributed to rapid post-introduction evolution, due to novel selection pressures at the introduced range. However, evolutionary shifts in invasion-promoting traits can also take place within the introduced range over time. Here, we first present a review of the proposed hypotheses regarding the selection pressures and trait divergence along gradients of invasion history and the studies that examined them. In addition, we present the results of a meta-analysis aimed to provide a more general overview of current knowledge on trait evolution with time since introduction. Invasion-promoting traits, including growth, competitive ability and dispersal ability, were proposed to decline in more established populations with a long invasion history due to the attenuation of selection pressures, such as enemy release or interspecific competition, while herbivore defence was suggested to increase. Our meta-analysis results reveal a general indication for the evolution of invasive plants with residence time for most of the studied traits. However, this divergence did not have a consistent direction in most traits, except for growth, which, in contrast with our prediction, increased with residence time. The lack of empirical support for the predicted change in most of the studied traits over time suggests trait evolution might be affected by other context-dependent factors such as climatic gradients along invasion routes. Similarly, the increased allocation to size in older and more established populations may be driven by increased conspecific competition pressure experienced in these populations. The general temporal effect found in our meta-analysis stresses the need to consider population age when comparing attributes of invasive plants between native and invasive ranges. Moreover, the increased size of invasive plants in older populations, suggests that the dominance of these plants might not attenuate with time since introduction, thus highlighting the need to further explore the long-term dynamics between invasive plants and their recipient native communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)99-124
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright Michal Gruntman & Udi Segev. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Chronosequence
  • enemy release hypothesis
  • evolution of competitive ability hypothesis
  • invasive plants
  • novel weapons hypothesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of residence time on trait evolution in invasive plants: review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this