Seasonal variability in physiological and anatomical traits contributes to invasion success of Prosopis juliflora in tropical dry forest.
We investigated whether there were consistent differences in the physiological and anatomical traits and phenotypic variability of an invasive (Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) DC.) and native species (Anadenanthera colubrina (Vell.) Brenan) in response to seasonality in a tropical dry forest. The water potential, organic solutes, gas exchange, enzymes of the antioxidant system, products of oxidative stress and anatomical parameters were evaluated in both species in response to seasonality. An analysis of physiological responses indicated that the invasive P. juliflora exhibited higher response in net photosynthetic rate to that of the native species between seasons. Higher values of water potential of the invasive species than those of the native species in the dry season indicate a more efficient mechanism for water regulation in the invasive species. The invasive species exhibits a thicker cuticle and trichomes, which can reduce transpiration. In combination, the increased epidermal thickness and the decreased thickness of the parenchyma in the dry season may contribute to water saving. Our data suggest a higher variability in anatomical traits in the invasive species as a response to seasonality, whereas physiological traits did not present a clear pattern of response.