Interpopulation variation in allelopathic traits informs restoration of invaded landscapes.
Invasive species can show substantial genetic variation in ecologically important traits, across ranges as well within the introduced range. If these traits affect competition with native species, then management may benefit from considering the genetic landscape of the invader. Across their introduced range, Alliaria petiolata populations vary in their investment in allelopathic traits according to invasion history, which could lead to gradients of impact on native species. Red oak (Quercus rubra) seedlings were transplanted into eight A. petiolata-invaded sites that varied in their invasion history and allelochemical concentrations. At each site, an invader removal treatment was crossed with experimental inoculations of native soil biota, to test whether the benefits of these restoration actions differed across invader populations. Q. rubra seedlings grew faster in invader populations with a longer invasion history and lower allelochemical concentrations. Invader removal and soil inoculation interacted to determine seedling growth, with the benefits of soil inoculation increasing in younger and more highly allelopathic invader populations. A greenhouse experiment using soils collected from experimentally inoculated field plots found similar patterns. These results suggest that the impact of this invader varies across landscapes and that knowledge of this variation could improve the efficacy and efficiency of restoration activities.