Do plant traits predict the competitive abilities of closely related species?

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Japanese chaff flower (Achyranthes japonica) and Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) at the same density in the controlled field experiment conducted at Southern Illinois University. Photo credit: Lauren Schwartz.
Japanese chaff flower (Achyranthes japonica) and Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) at the same density in the controlled field experiment conducted at Southern Illinois University. Photo credit: Lauren Schwartz.

Invasive species are a threat to every ecosystem and thus there is a strong incentive to predict which species will become invasive before they become too widespread and unmanageable. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Schwartz et al. conducted a multi-year, temporally replicated, greenhouse and field experiment based on plant functional traits, quantifying competitive ability and making phylogenetic comparisons to determine the invasive potential of four closely related species varying in invasion status, life history and habitat. Their results suggest that these closely related species do exhibit similar competitive abilities and that the invasiveness and not the life history or habitat of these species appear to be the driving factor of competitiveness.

Reference

Schwartz, L. M., Gibson, D. J., & Young, B. G. (2015). Do plant traits predict the competitive abilities of closely related species? AoB Plants, 8, plv147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv147


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