Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Comparisons of plastic responses to irradiance and physiological traits by invasive Eupatorium adenophorum and its native congeners.

Abstract

To explore the traits contributing to invasiveness of Eupatorium adenophorum and to test the relationship between plasticity of these traits and invasiveness, we compared E. adenophorum with its two native congeners at four irradiances (10%, 23%, 40%, and 100%). The invader showed constantly higher performance (relative growth rate and total biomass) across irradiances than its native congeners. Higher light-saturated photosynthetic rate (Pmax), respiration efficiency (RE), and nitrogen (PNUE) and water (WUE, at 40% and 100% irradiances only) use efficiencies contributed directly to the higher performance of the invader. Higher nitrogen allocation to, stomatal conductance, and the higher contents of leaf nitrogen and pigments contributed to the higher performance of the invader indirectly through increasing Pmax, RE, PNUE and WUE. The invader had consistently higher plasticity only in carotenoid content than its native congeners in ranges of low (10-40%), high (40-100%) and total (10-100%) irradiances, contributing to invasion success in high irradiance by photo protection. In the range of low irradiances, the invader had higher plasticity in some physiological traits (leaf nitrogen content, nitrogen contents in bioenergetics, carboxylation and in light-harvesting components, and contents of leaf chlorophylls and carotenoids) but not in performance, while in the ranges of high or total irradiances, the invader did not show higher plasticity in any variable (except Car). The results indicated that the relationship between invasiveness and plasticity of a specific trait was complex, and that a universal generalization about the relationship might be too simplistic.