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Fast life history traits promote invasion success in amphibians and reptiles

Allen, William L.; Street, Sally E.; Capellini, Isabella


William L. Allen

Sally E. Street

Isabella Capellini


Marcel Rejmanek


Competing theoretical models make different predictions on which life history strategies facilitate growth of small populations. While ‘fast’ strategies allow for rapid increase in population size and limit vulnerability to stochastic events, ‘slow’ strategies and bet-hedging may reduce variance in vital rates in response to stochasticity. We test these predictions using biological invasions since founder alien populations start small, compiling the largest dataset yet of global herpetological introductions and life history traits. Using state-of-the-art phylogenetic comparative methods, we show that successful invaders have fast traits, such as large and frequent clutches, at both establishment and spread stages. These results, together with recent findings in mammals and plants, support ‘fast advantage’ models and the importance of high potential population growth rate. Conversely, successful alien birds are bet-hedgers. We propose that transient population dynamics and differences in longevity and behavioural flexibility can help reconcile apparently contrasting results across terrestrial vertebrate classes.


Allen, W. L., Street, S. E., & Capellini, I. (2017). Fast life history traits promote invasion success in amphibians and reptiles. Ecology letters, 20(2), 222-230.

Acceptance Date Dec 2, 2016
Online Publication Date Jan 4, 2017
Publication Date Feb 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Ecology letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 222-230
Keywords Amphibians; Biological invasions; Comparative analyses; Invasion biology; Invasive species; Life history theory; Population dynamics; Population growth; Reptiles; Transient dynamics
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Additional Information Copy of article: Allen, W. L., Street, S. E. and Capellini, I. (2017), Fast life history traits promote invasion success in amphibians and reptiles. Ecol Lett, 20: 222–230. doi:10.1111/ele.12728


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Copyright Statement
© 2017 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.<br /> <br /> This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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