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Nature. 2002 Jun 6;417(6889):608-9.

Ecology: Darwin's naturalization hypothesis challenged.

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Ecology and Entomology Group, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.


Naturalized plants can have a significant ecological and economic impact, yet they comprise only a fraction ot the plant species introduced by humans. Darwin proposed that introduced plant species will be less likely to establish a self-sustaining wild population in places with congeneric native species because the introduced plants have to compete with their close relatives, or are more likely to be attacked by native herbivores or pathogens, a theory known as Darwin's naturalization hypothesis. Here we analyze a complete list of seed-plant species that have been introduced to New Zealand and find that those with congeneric relatives are significantly more, not less, likely to naturalize--perhaps because they share with their native relatives traits that pre-adapt them to their new environment.

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