Invasion syndromes: a systematic approach for predicting biological invasions and facilitating effective management

Ana Novoa*, David M. Richardson, Petr Pyšek, Laura A. Meyerson, Sven Bacher, Susan Canavan, Jane A. Catford, Jan Čuda, Franz Essl, Llewellyn C. Foxcroft, Piero Genovesi, Heidi Hirsch, Cang Hui, Michele C. Jackson, Christoph Kueffer, Johannes J. Le Roux, John Measey, Nitya P. Mohanty, Desika Moodley, Heinz Müller-SchärerJasmin G. Packer, Jan Pergl, Tamara B. Robinson, Wolf-Christian Saul, Ross T. Shackleton, Vernon Visser, Olaf L. F. Weyl, Florencia A. Yannelli, John R.U. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)
    17 Downloads (Pure)


    Our ability to predict invasions has been hindered by the seemingly idiosyncratic context-dependency of individual invasions. However, we argue that robust and useful generalisations in invasion science can be made by considering “invasion syndromes” which we define as “a combination of pathways, alien species traits, and characteristics of the recipient ecosystem which collectively result in predictable dynamics and impacts, and that can be managed effectively using specific policy and management actions”. We describe this approach and outline examples that highlight its utility, including: cacti with clonal fragmentation in arid ecosystems; small aquatic organisms introduced through ballast water in harbours; large ranid frogs with frequent secondary transfers; piscivorous freshwater fishes in connected aquatic ecosystems; plant invasions in high-elevation areas; tall-statured grasses; and tree-feeding insects in forests with suitable hosts. We propose a systematic method for identifying and delimiting invasion syndromes. We argue that invasion syndromes can account for the context-dependency of biological invasions while incorporating insights from comparative studies. Adopting this approach will help to structure thinking, identify transferrable risk assessment and management lessons, and highlight similarities among events that were previously considered disparate invasion phenomena.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1801-1820
    Number of pages20
    JournalBiological Invasions
    Issue number5
    Early online date2 Mar 2020
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Biological invasions
    • Context dependency
    • Invasion science
    • Invasive species


    Dive into the research topics of 'Invasion syndromes: a systematic approach for predicting biological invasions and facilitating effective management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this