Nutritional Dimensions of Invasive Success


Despite mounting calls for predictive ecological approaches rooted in physiological performance currencies, the field of invasive species biology has lagged behind. For instance, successful invaders are often predicted to consume diverse foods, but the nutritional complexity of foods often leaves food-level analyses short of physiological mechanisms. The emerging field of nutritional geometry (NG) provides new theory and empirical tools to predict invasive potential based on fundamental and realized nutritional niches. We review recent advances and synthesize NG predictions about behavioral traits that favor invasive establishment, and evolutionary dynamics that promote invasive spread. We also provide practical advice for applying NG approaches, and discuss the power of nutrition to achieve a more predictive invasion biology that explicitly integrates physiological mechanisms.

  • Species invasions represent a global threat to biodiversity.
  • Preventing invasive species requires an ability to accurately predict future invaders. Diet breadth analyses are often used, but the nutritional complexity of most foods means that food-level analyses tend to lack explicit physiological mechanisms.
  • The emerging field of NG can strengthen physiological predictions based on niche-based mechanisms governing invasive potential.
  • We use NG to synthesize predictions of behavioral traits that govern invasive establishment and evolutionary dynamics that govern invasive spread.
  • We also provide practical tools for applying the NG toolbox in the laboratory and in the field, and we suggest how invasion biologists can use these approaches to integrate insights from disciplines as diverse as comparative genomics and applied animal husbandry.

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Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism
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