loading page

Time lags and the invasion debt in plant naturalisations
  • Richard Duncan
Richard Duncan
University of Canberra
Author Profile


Ecological processes often exhibit time lags. For plant invasions, lags of decades to centuries between species’ introduction and establishment in the wild (naturalisation) are common, leading to the idea of an invasion debt: accelerating rates of introduction result in an expanding pool of introduced species that will naturalise in the future. Here, I show how a concept from survival analysis, the hazard function, provides an intuitive way to understand and forecast time lags. For plant naturalisation, theoretical arguments predict that lags between introduction and naturalisation will have a unimodal distribution, and that increasing horticultural activity will cause the mean and variance of lag times to decline over time. These predictions were supported by data on introduction and naturalisation dates for plant species introduced to Britain. While increasing trade and horticultural activity can generate an invasion debt by accelerating introductions, the same processes could lower that debt by reducing lag times.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

10 Feb 2021Submitted to Ecology Letters
11 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
11 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
11 Feb 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
09 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 Mar 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
14 Mar 20211st Revision Received
15 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
15 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
15 Mar 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Mar 2021Editorial Decision: Accept