Impact of drought on plant populations of native and invasive origins.
Invasive populations often shift phenotypically during introduction. Moreover, they are postulated to show an increased phenotypic plasticity compared with their native counterparts, which could be advantageous. However, less is known about trait selection across populations along the invasion gradient in response to environmental factors, such as increasing drought caused by climate change. In this study, we investigated the impacts of drought on growth, regrowth, and various leaf traits in plants of different origin. Therefore, seeds of 18 populations of the perennial Tanacetum vulgare were collected along the invasion gradient (North America, invasive; West Europe, archaeophyte; East Europe, native) and grown in competition with the grass Poa pratensis under control or dry conditions in a common garden. Above-ground biomass was cut once and the regrowth was measured as an indicator for tolerance over a second growth period. Initially, drought had little effects on growth of T. vulgare, but after cutting, plants grew more vigorously. Against expectations, phenotypic plasticity was not higher in invasive populations, but even reduced in one trait, which may be attributable to ecological constraints imposed by multiple stress conditions. Trait responses reflected the range expansion and invasion gradient and were influenced by the latitudinal origin of populations. Populations of invaded ranges may be subject to faster and more extensive genetic mixing or had less time to undergo and reflect selective processes.