About 10% of all non-native plant species become invasive, often resulting in considerable ecological and economic impacts in the invaded ecosystems. A new study in Nature can now support ecosystem management efforts by highlighting the regions that are most susceptible to the presence and spread of non-native tree species and identifying management strategies to minimise invasion success.
Determining the drivers of non-native plant invasions is critical for managing native ecosystems and limiting the spread of invasive species 1,2. Tree invasions in particular have been relatively overlooked, even though they have the potential to transform ecosystems and economies 3,4. Here, leveraging global tree databases 5,6,7, we explore how the phylogenetic and functional diversity of native tree communities, human pressure and the environment influence the establishment of non-native tree species and the subsequent invasion severity. We find that anthropogenic factors are key to predicting whether a location is invaded, but that invasion severity is underpinned by native diversity, with higher diversity predicting lower invasion severity. Temperature and precipitation emerge as strong predictors of invasion strategy, with non-native species invading successfully when they are similar to the native community in cold or dry extremes. Yet, despite the influence of these ecological forces in determining invasion strategy, we find evidence that these patterns can be obscured by human activity, with lower ecological signal in areas with higher proximity to shipping ports. Our global perspective of non-native tree invasion highlights that human drivers influence non-native tree presence, and that native phylogenetic and functional diversity have a critical role in the establishment and spread of subsequent invasions.