Basal tolerance but not plasticity gives invasive springtails the advantage in an assemblage setting

Laura M. Phillips, Ian Aitkenhead, Charlene Janion-Scheepers, Catherine K. King, Melodie A. McGeoch, Uffe N. Nielsen, Aleks Terauds, W. P. Amy Liu, Steven L. Chown

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14 Citations (Scopus)


As global climates change, alien species are anticipated to have a growing advantage relative to their indigenous counterparts, mediated through consistent trait differences between the groups. These insights have largely been developed based on interspecific comparisons using multiple species examined from different locations. Whether such consistent physiological trait differences are present within assemblages is not well understood, especially for animals. Yet, it is at the assemblage level that interactions play out. Here, we examine whether physiological trait differences observed at the interspecific level are also applicable to assemblages. We focus on the Collembola, an important component of the soil fauna characterized by invasions globally, and five traits related to fitness: critical thermal maximum, minimum and range, desiccation resistance and egg development rate. We test the predictions that the alien component of a local assemblage has greater basal physiological tolerances or higher rates, and more pronounced phenotypic plasticity than the indigenous component. Basal critical thermal maximum, thermal tolerance range, desiccation resistance, optimum temperature for egg development, the rate of development at that optimum and the upper temperature limiting egg hatching success are all significantly higher, on average, for the alien than the indigenous components of the assemblage. Outcomes for critical thermal minimum are variable. No significant differences in phenotypic plasticity exist between the alien and indigenous components of the assemblage. These results are consistent with previous interspecific studies investigating basal thermal tolerance limits and development rates and their phenotypic plasticity, in arthropods, but are inconsistent with results from previous work on desiccation resistance. Thus, for the Collembola, the anticipated advantage of alien over indigenous species under warming and drying is likely to be manifest in local assemblages, globally.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbercoaa049
Number of pages18
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Biological invasions
  • climate change
  • CT
  • growth
  • water balance

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