Phylogenetically diverse native systems are more resistant to invasive plant species on Robben Island, South Africa

Kowiyou Yessoufou, Bezeng S. Bezeng, Orou G. Gaoue, Thato Bengu, Michelle Van Der Bank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Alien invasive species are problematic both economically and ecologically, particularly on islands. As such, understanding how they interact with their environment is necessary to inform invasive species management. Here, we ask the following questions: What are the main functional traits that correlate with invasion success of alien plants on Robben Island? How does phylogenetic structure shape biotic interactions on the island? Using multiple approaches to explore these questions, we found that alien invasive species flower later during the year and for longer period, although flowering phenology was sensitive to alternative starting date. Additionally, we observed that alien invasive species are mostly abiotically pollinated and are generally hermaphroditic whilst their native counterparts rely on biotic pollinators, flower earlier, and are generally dioecious, suggesting that alien invasive and native species use different ecological niches. Furthermore, we found a facilitative interaction between an alien invasive legume and other invasive plants as predicted by the invasional meltdown hypothesis, but this does not influence the phylogenetic structure of plant communities. Finally, phylogenetically diverse set of native species are less receptive to alien invasive species. Collectively, our findings reveal how biotic interactions and phylogenetic relatedness structure alien invasive-native co-existence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Acacia cyclops
  • Biological invasions
  • Evolutionary history
  • Functional traits
  • Invasional meltdown
  • Niche partition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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