Testing the Neolithic Plant Invasion Hypothesis

In recent years, several authors have highlighted that European grassland species constitute the majority of the invaders of managed grasslands worldwide. In 2018, McDougall et al. proposed the Neolithic Plant Invasion Hypothesis (NPIH). This hypothesis implies that this preponderance of European species amongst invaders might be due to the simultaneous introduction – in colonial times – of European agricultural practices and plant species with the history of adaptation to cultivation beginning in the Neolithic. McDougall et al. (2018) formulated some predictions that could be tested experimentally to verify the NPIH. Such predictions are the starting point of this doctoral project aimed at verifying the importance of Neolithic agriculture in shaping invasive plant traits. With the collaboration of experts in the field of the history of agriculture, we intend to identify regions of the world that have had different trajectories in the development and modes of agriculture. Implementing field and experimental approaches, we will then select plant species from such regions and investigate how they respond to agricultural disturbance in different settings. We plan to disentangle the importance of natural and anthropogenic (past and present) drivers that affect plant invasions in managed grasslands all over the world.

Project by Ginevra Bellini gbellini@ecology.uni-kiel.de
and Alexandra Erfmeier aerfmeier@ecology.uni-kiel.de


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions