Mediterranean, invasive, woody species grow larger than their less-invasive counterparts under potential global environmental change.
PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Revealing biological differences between invasive and noninvasive species is essential for predicting species' distribution changes with global environmental change. While most research has focused on differences between invasive and noninvasive species under favorable conditions using herbaceous species, invasive woody angiosperms are also of great ecological concern. Our study focused on how growth and allocation may change for invasive and noninvasive, mediterranean, woody angiosperms under future conditions caused by global change, specifically increased nitrogen deposition and drought. METHODS: We tested how seedling functional traits differed between invasive and noninvasive woody angiosperms under different experimental conditions in a greenhouse setting. We compared growth rates and allocation patterns using two levels of soil nitrogen and three levels of watering. We also examined trait log response ratios to increases in nitrogen and increases in water. Our study sampled angiosperm trees and shrubs, incorporating congeneric/confamilial relationships through 13 phylogenetically controlled contrasts. KEY RESULTS: Three functional traits were highly and positively associated with plant invasiveness for most conditions studied: seedling plant mass, leaf area, and height. Invasive species also had significantly higher root mass ratios at low water regardless of nitrogen input. Invasive and noninvasive species had similar log response ratios to increases in nitrogen and watering for studied traits. CONCLUSIONS: Mediterranean, woody, invasive species' larger mass, leaf area, and early height advantage under elevated nitrogen input and increased root production in drought conditions may lead to increased invasion of these species with expected global climate change.