Previous studies suggest that, within particular groups of plant species, biological attributes can be used to predict the potential invasiveness of species that are intentionally introduced for horticultural or agricultural purposes. We examined the broad question of whether commonly available biological information can predict the invasiveness of a wide range of intentionally and accidentally introduced species. We collected information from published floras on 165 pairs of plant species. In each pair, one species originated in Europe and successfully invaded New Brunswick, Canada, and the other was a congeneric species that has not invaded North America. Only three biological characters-lifeform, stem height, and flowering period-and European geographic range were known for all species. We conducted multiple logistic regression analyses using two-thirds (110) of the species pairs and tested the predictive ability of resulting models using the remaining 55 pairs. Although a significant logistic regression model was obtained using the biological attributes, the model could not predict invasiveness of the test species pairs. In contrast, a model using only European range successfully predicted invasiveness in 70% of the test species. The importance of geographic range suggests that prediction of invasiveness on a species-by-species basis is not likely to help stem the flow of accidentally introduced invasive species. Species that are inadvertently picked up and moved to a new location due to their wide distribution are the same species that are likely to succeed in a new environment due to their wide environmental tolerances.
Conservation Biology
Department of Biology

Goodwin, B.J. (Brett J.), McAllister, A.J. (Andrew J.), & Fahrig, L. (1999). Predicting invasiveness of plant species based on biological information. Conservation Biology, 13(2), 422–426. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1999.013002422.x