Persistent soil seed banks promote naturalisation and invasiveness in flowering plants

Margherita Gioria, Angelino Carta, Carol C. Baskin, Wayne Dawson, Franz Essl, Holger Kreft, Jan Pergl, Mark van Kleunen, Patrick Weigelt, Marten Winter, Petr Pyšek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


With globalisation facilitating the movement of plants and seeds beyond the native range, preventing potentially harmful introductions requires knowledge of what drives the successful establishment and spread of alien plants. Here, we examined global-scale relationships between naturalisation success (incidence and extent) and invasiveness, soil seed bank properties (type and densities) and key species traits (seed mass, seed dormancy and life form) for 2350 species of angiosperms. Naturalisation and invasiveness were strongly associated with the ability to form persistent (vs. transient) seed banks but relatively weakly with seed bank densities and other traits. Our findings suggest that seed bank persistence is a trait that better captures the ability to become naturalised and invasive compared to seed traits more widely available in trait databases. Knowledge of seed persistence can contribute to our ability to predict global naturalisation and invasiveness and to identify potentially invasive flowering plants before they are introduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1667
Number of pages13
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by projects no. 19‐20405S and EXPRO grant no. 19‐28807X (Czech Science Foundation), and long‐term research development project RVO 67985939 (Czech Academy of Sciences). FE acknowledges funding by the Austrian Science Foundation FWF (grant I 3757‐B29). MW acknowledges funding by the German Research Foundation (via iDiv: DFG FZT 118, 202548816). We appreciate the helpful comments of the Handling Editor (Vanessa Ezenewa), Angela Moles, Dane Panetta and an anonymous reviewer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • GloNAF
  • GloSSBank
  • alien species
  • angiosperm
  • dormancy
  • exotic species
  • persistence
  • plant invasions
  • seed mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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