Do invasive species live faster? Mass-specific metabolic rate depends on growth form and invasion status

Authors: Marcelo E Lagos, Craig R White, and Dustin J Marshall

Published in: Functional Ecology

Abstract

Invasive organisms often share characteristics that make them successful. Traits such as rapid growth and short generation times are classic “weed” phenotypes, such that invasive species often have r-selected rather than k-selected life histories. Given that invasive species often display “fast” life histories, invasive species may have relatively higher metabolic rates but systematic tests across taxa are lacking.

We compared metabolic rate across 14 sessile invasive and native marine invertebrates. We also investigated the influence of growth form (erect vs. flat species) on the metabolic rate of these species, since growth form can also affect metabolic rate.

For species with an erect growth form, we found an effect of invasive status on mass-specific metabolic rate. Invasive species had much higher mass-specific metabolic rates than native species and this was particularly pronounced for organisms with smaller body masses.

Given that smaller-bodied invasive organisms are typically early-successional, “fugitive” species, a higher metabolic rate may allow a faster pace of life, enhancing their capacity to invade and reproduce in newly created disturbed habitats.

Lagos ME, White CR, Marshall DJ (2017) Do invasive species live faster? Mass-specific metabolic rate depends on growth form and invasion status. Functional Ecology, PDF 644 KB DOI:10.1111/1365-2435.12913