Disturbance events, such as cattle grazing or human activities, remove plant individuals and thereby create opportunities for non-native plants to colonise the community. Disturbance often favours exotic plant species, but little is known about the implications for community structure.
In an arid shrubland characterised by mounds generated by a native fossorial rodent, Escobedo et al. evaluate the influence of such natural disturbance on plant invasion, as well as on the taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic structure of the community. Disturbance favoured exotic species with short life-cycles and thus modifies community composition and functional trait structure. Disturbance increased trait convergence, which resulted in phylogenetic clustering because related species showed similar trait values.