Similar responses in morphology, growth, biomass allocation, and photosynthesis in invasive Wedelia trilobata and native congeners to CO2 enrichment.
Both global change and biological invasions threaten biodiversity worldwide. However, their interactions and related mechanisms are still not well elucidated. To elucidate potential traits contributing to invasiveness and whether ongoing increase in CO2 aggravates invasions, noxious invasive Wedelia trilobata and native Wedelia urticifolia and Wedelia chinensis were compared under ambient and doubled atmospheric CO2 concentrations in terms of growth, biomass allocation, morphology, and physiology. The invader had consistently higher leaf mass fraction (LMF) and specific leaf area than the natives, contributing to a higher leaf area ratio, and therefore to faster growth and invasiveness. The higher LMF of the invader was due to lower root mass fraction and higher fine root percent. On the other hand, the invader allocated a higher fraction of leaf nitrogen (N) to photosynthetic apparatus, which was associated with its higher photosynthetic rate, and resource use efficiency. All these traits collectively contributed to its invasiveness. CO2 enrichment increased growth of all studied species by increasing actual photosynthesis, although it decreased photosynthetic capacities due to decreased leaf and photosynthetic N contents. Responses of the invasive and native plants to elevated CO2 were not significantly different, indicating that the ongoing increase in CO2 may not aggravate biological invasions, inconsistent with the prevailing results in references. Therefore, more comparative studies of related invasive and native plants are needed to elucidate whether CO2 enrichment facilitates invasions.