Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Enhanced fitness and greater herbivore resistance: implications for dandelion invasion in an alpine habitat.

Abstract

Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the defense strategies of invasive plants in new ranges. In the absence of specialist herbivores, it is believed that invasive plants may allocate fewer resources to resistance and more to growth and reproduction, thus increasing tolerance to damage in the invasive genotypes. In order to test these predictions, we compared both performance (growth and reproduction) and defense strategies (tolerance and resistance) of two populations of Taraxacum officinale, one from the native range in the French Alps, and one from the introduced range in the Chilean Andes. Individuals from the introduced population demonstrated improved reproductive traits relative to those from the native population, although there was no discernible difference in biomass accumulation. Additionally, reduced tolerance was evident in the case of the former; whereas fitness traits of native plants were unaffected by damage, invasive plants reduced growth and seed output by 25 and 30% respectively following damage treatments. Increases in levels of phenols and anthocyanins, produced as a defense response to herbivory, were observed in introduced plants. Our results suggest that reallocation of resources to reproduction may be an important factor favouring invasive success of T. officinale in Chile, and that a higher investment in chemical resistance traits in this population may also be a factor in this regard.