Reproductive biology and success of invasive Australian acacias in Portugal.
Reproductive traits are crucial for the establishment and maintenance of populations in new areas, and therefore for the invasion process. This work aimed to study the reproductive biology of four aggressive invasive Australian Acacia spp. in Portugal. Fruit and seed set, seed weight and germinability, and seedling growth were assessed for self- and outcross treatments in invasive populations of A. dealbata, A. longifolia, A. melanoxylon and A. saligna. Acacia spp. showed different investments in the production of reproductive units and in natural reproductive success, with A. dealbata, the most aggressive species, having the highest investment and reproductive success. Acacia melanoxylon showed a different reproductive strategy, andromonoecy, contrasting with the other hermaphroditic species. Acacia spp. were shown to be predominantly self-incompatible, but a low level of spontaneous selfing enabled the production of viable offspring. Acacia dealbata and A. longifolia suffered pollen limitation. Self-progeny had lower viability than progeny from outcrossing for A. dealbata and A. melanoxylon. Acacia spp. did not show higher compatibility rates in comparison with the native area. They had low fruit set but, as a result of their massive flower production, their realized reproductive success was high and could have contributed to the invasion.