Effects of clonal integration in the expansion of two alien Carpobrotus species into a coastal dune system - a field experiment.
What makes a plant a successful invader is one of the most interesting questions in modern ecology. Comparative studies including congeners differing in invasiveness are a straightforward approach to detect potential traits explaining invasions. In this experiment we studied the importance of clonal integration and the capacity to buffer fragmentation in the expansion of two stoloniferous invaders, Carpobrotus edulis, considered more invasive, and Carpobrotus acinaciformis, considered less invasive. In particular we aim to determine whether differences in these clonal traits may explain differences in invasiveness between both species. We report evidence that clonal integration favour the expansion of the two exotic clonal species into a sand dune system. Benefit derived from clonal integration by itself does not explain differences in invasiveness between theses two exotic species. However, our result indicates that the greater invasiveness of C. edulis could be explained by a higher capacity to buffer the negative effect of fragmentation in comparison with C. acinaciformis. To elucidate the real contribution of clonal traits in plant invasions, new comparative studies should be conducted including more clonal species.