Profiling the bad boys

In war, it is important to profile your enemies. You should know the qualities and the weaknesses of the other party, to adequately predict their next move.

As I said on the results page,  invasiveness is not a skill known to every plant. Plants need the combination of the right characteristics, with a little bit of additional luck. Here, I profile some of the most likely candidates for invasion: the ruderals (check those badasses out on the picture!).


These species are designed for the guerrilla-war: they travel fast, have fantastic germination capacities even in the most horrible circumstances and reproduce like rabbits in the shortest possible timespan.

They like human presence, because they are perfectly adapted to survived in disturbed plots where other plants fail to thrive. Between cracks in roads, on the railroad, vertically on walls, simply everywhere where they can find a tiny hole. This is the exact explanation for why they are so widespread in cities and all kind of places influenced by humans. They follow us everywhere were we expand our concrete world.


The above gives a traditional view of an ideal invader: quickly reproducing plants, always  first to germinate on disturbed plots. However, as I will show later, we will need another profile if we look at invasion in mountains. There, the ruderals turn out to be not the main danger. We will have to re-profile our enemies there, or we will totally miss the point.

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5 Responses to Profiling the bad boys

  1. jeffollerton says:

    With regards to re-profiling invasive plants, you may be interested in a recent paper of ours – the link is below. In some ways it’s an unlikely invader, being a functionally specialised hummingbird pollinated species, but it clearly does very well. Although we don’t refer specifically to its ability to invade mountain areas, we’ve seen it at around 3000m in Peru, though in Tenerife it’s restricted to under 1000m. In its native range it goes from sea level to 3500m

    All the best,


    • Very interesting article, I really like the case! It shows clearly how flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances contributes to the invasive qualities of a species. That’s something I also expect in the mountains: species with a large chance to become invasive are those species that seem to overcome the normal limitations from their native range. I’m going to keep your publication in mind, because the hummingbird pollination appeals to the imagination!

  2. jeffollerton says:

    Thanks Jonas, look forward to seeing your work appear in print.

  3. Pingback: Ground-breaking | On top of the world

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