Nitrogen addition increases intraspecific competition in the invasive wetland plant Alternanthera philoxeroides, but not in its native congener Alternanthera sessilis.
Nitrogen is often released in pulses with different frequencies, and N supply pulses may affect growth, reproduction, and biomass allocation of plants. However, few studies have examined how N supply pulses affect intraspecific competition of clonal plants and whether such an effect depends on the N supply amount. We grew one (no competition) or 12 ramets (with intraspecific competition) of both an invasive clonal plant Alternanthera philoxeroides and its native congener Alternantherasessilis in five different N treatments: control (no N addition), low/high amount with low/high frequencies (pulses). Nitrogen addition significantly increased the growth of both species, while intraspecific competition decreased it. Nitrogen addition significantly increased intraspecific competitive intensity of A. philoxeroides as measured by the log response ratio of growth traits, but did not affect that of A. sessilis. Despite the N supply amount, N pulses had little effect on the growth and thus intraspecific competition of the two species. Therefore, increasing N deposition may change population structure and dynamics and the invasion succession of A. philoxeroides, but changes in N pulses may not.