AoB PLANTS

Evidence for rapid ecological range expansion in a newly invasive plant

The Asian annual Polygonum cespitosum has recently undergone an ecological range expansion from its original shade distribution in northeastern North America, and is now found in sunny habitats such as this open meadow. Photo credit S Matesanz.
The Asian annual Polygonum cespitosum has recently undergone an ecological range expansion from its original shade distribution in northeastern North America, and is now found in sunny habitats such as this open meadow. Photo credit S Matesanz.

Many studies track the geographic spread of invasive plants, but little is known about how such species may expand their ecological range (the range of environments in which they can successfully establish populations). Developing approaches to track ecological range over time could substantially contribute to understanding invasion dynamics. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Matesanz et al. document a significant expansion over a 15-year period in the range of light and moisture conditions inhabited by the Asian annual Polygonum cespitosum in northeastern North America. The species’ increased ecological breadth is coincident with its more aggressive spread in the region.

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