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Global environmental changes more frequently offset than intensify detrimental effects of biological invasions


Bianca Lopez

Jenica Allen

Jeffrey Dukes

Jonathan Lenoir

Montserrat Vilà

Dana Blumenthal

Evelyn Beaury

Emily Fusco

Brittany Laghinas

Toni Lyn Morelli

Mitchell O’Neill

Cascade Sorte

Alberto Maceda-Veiga

Raj Whitlock

Bethany Bradley

+10 more
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Secondary Title:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
0027-8424, 1091-6490


Human-induced abiotic global environmental changes (GECs) and the spread of nonnative invasive species are rapidly altering ecosystems. Understanding the relative and interactive effects of invasion and GECs is critical for informing ecosystem adaptation and management, but this information has not been synthesized. We conducted a meta-analysis to investigate effects of invasions, GECs, and their combined influences on native ecosystems. We found 458 cases from 95 published studies that reported individual and combined effects of invasions and a GEC stressor, which was most commonly warming, drought, or nitrogen addition. We calculated standardized effect sizes (Hedges’ d) for individual and combined treatments and classified interactions as additive (sum of individual treatment effects), antagonistic (smaller than expected), or synergistic (outside the expected range). The ecological effects of GECs varied, with detrimental effects more likely with drought than the other GECs. Invasions were more strongly detrimental, on average, than GECs. Invasion and GEC interactions were mostly antagonistic, but synergistic interactions occurred in >25% of cases and mostly led to more detrimental outcomes for ecosystems. While interactive effects were most often smaller than expected from individual invasion and GEC effects, synergisms were not rare and occurred across ecological responses from the individual to the ecosystem scale. Overall, interactions between invasions and GECs were typically no worse than the effects of invasions alone, highlighting the importance of managing invasions locally as a crucial step toward reducing harm from multiple global changes.