A native species does not prevent the colonization success of an introduced submerged macrophyte, even at low propagule pressure

  • Nayara Louback-FrancoEmail author
  • Mário S. Dainez-Filho
  • Douglas C. Souza
  • Sidinei M. Thomaz


Invasions are a threat to biodiversity because non-native species are generally more competitive than native species. Hydrilla verticillata is an invasive macrophyte that causes concern in many regions. We used field surveys and an experiment to test the hypothesis that H. verticillata colonization is negatively affected by a native competitor and positively affected by propagule pressure. We used data obtained in the field (a reservoir) to test whether H. verticillata was able to invade sites colonized by the native submerged macrophyte Helanthium tenellum. Then, we developed an outdoor experiment using H. tenellum as a competitor at different levels of H. verticillata propagule pressure. The field surveys indicated that H. verticillata invaded sites colonized by H. tenellum. Furthermore, our experiments showed that propagule pressure was effective in increasing H. verticillata colonization, while the presence of the native species was not enough to prevent early H. verticillata colonization, even at the lowest propagule pressure. We conclude that submerged macrophytes with creeping life forms, such as H. tenellum, do not provide biotic resistance to H. verticillata colonization independent of propagule pressure. These results are of concern because there are many important aquatic environments in Brazil that are colonized by creeping life forms macrophytes.


Invasive species Invasion biology Non-native species Exotic species Alien species Establishment Aquatic plants 



We thank Eduardo Ribeiro Cunha, Thaisa Sala Michelan, Marcio José Silveira and Emanuel Cafofo for fruitful discussions during the elaboration of this work and for field assistance. We acknowledge with appreciation the comments provided by two reviewers, who contributed to improve the first version of this work. We thank the Brazilian Council of Research (CNPq) for providing MSc scholarships for NLF and MSD and a research productivity grant to SMT. CAPES, a program of the Brazilian government for the training of human resources, provided an MSc scholarship to DCS and funds to support the field samplings and the experiment.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em EcologiaUniversidade Federal do Pará e Embrapa Amazônia Oriental (UFPA/EMBRAPA)BelémBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos ContinentaisUniversidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil

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