Characteristics of the soil seed bank of invasive and non-invasive plants in their native and alien distribution range

Margherita Gioria*, Johannes J. Le Roux, Heidi Hirsch, Lenka Moravcová, Petr Pyšek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to form persistent seed banks might contribute substantially to determine the invasion potential of alien plants in their new distribution ranges, given the role of seed banks as sources of propagules, genetic diversity, and in spreading the risk of germination failure over time. Using the largest seed bank dataset collated to date, comprising 14,293 records for 2566 species, we examined whether the type (transient vs persistent) and density of the seed banks of invasive species differ in their native (home) and alien (abroad) range, and whether these attributes differ among invasive and non-invasive congeners, at home and abroad. A lower probability of forming a persistent seed bank in the alien range was identified when analyzing data for 140 invasive species, although phylogenetic analyses run for 104 of those species did not confirm such differences. However, invasive woody species formed denser seed banks in the alien range, suggesting greater seed production and/or lower seed predation or mortality in the alien than native range. Interestingly, invasive species consistently showed a higher probability of forming persistent seed banks as well as denser seed banks than their non-invasive congeners in their native range, but not in their alien range. These findings provide the first quantitative evidence, based on a large number of species globally, of preadaptation with respect to species life-history traits resulting in the formation of a persistent seed bank in invasive species compared to their non-invasive congeners. The fact that both invasive and non-invasive congeners have similar probabilities of forming persistent seed banks abroad suggests that this might be an important attribute for the establishment of alien species in new ranges (naturalization phase), but not for their spread (invasion phase). Our findings also indicate that the characteristics of native seed banks should be an important component of risk assessments aimed at identifying species that are more likely to become invasive if introduced in new ranges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2313–2332
Number of pages20
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number7
Early online date3 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • congeneric comparisons
  • invasiveness
  • seed bank density
  • seed bank persistence

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