Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2007


A growing body of literature has led to the debate in invasion biology whether exotic species perform within communities differently than native taxa due to inherent advantages. To address this issue, the population dynamics of native and exotic plant species were assessed from a 48-year record of permanent plot data from the Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center (New Jersey, USA) to determine rate of increase, lag time, maximum frequency, and the year of peak frequency. Overall, native and exotic species exhibited very similar population dynamics. Rates of increase and length of lag times were similar between native and exotic taxa but were strongly influenced by plant life form. Short-lived species were characterized by rapid population growth rates and short lag times. Growth rates decreased and lag times increased with species longevity. Overall, correlations between population metrics were the same in native and exotic taxa, suggesting similar trade-offs in life history patterns. The one difference observed was that, in native species, peak frequency was negatively associated with the year of peak frequency (i.e., early-successional species tended to become more abundant), while there was no relationship in exotic species. These analyses show that exotic species behave in essentially the same way as native taxa within dynamic communities. This suggests that abundant native and exotic plant species are exploiting the same range of ecological strategies resulting in similar roles within communities.