Evolutionary changes in growth, regrowth and carbohydrate storage in an invasive plant.
We hypothesized that due to the absence of specialist herbivores in introduced ranges, invasive plants have evolved decreased allocation to carbohydrate storage for regrowth ability and as a consequence allocate more to growth. In this study, we compared plant growth, carbohydrate storage and regrowth ability of invasive and native Jacobaea vulgaris in response to complete shoot defoliation. We used invasive J. vulgaris genotypes from three geographically and climactically distinct regions and compared these with native genotypes from Europe. We found that invasive genotypes initially grew larger while native genotypes regrew larger after defoliation. Before defoliation, the carbohydrate storage in roots of invasive genotypes was 38% lower than native genotypes. Biomass after regrowth increased with root carbohydrate storage while it decreased with structural root mass, showing that it is crucial to study root storage and structural components separately in order to investigate plant regrowth. All studied traits of invasive populations from the three geographically and climatologically distinct regions changed in the same expected direction suggesting that the shifts in herbivore guild were causal to the observed change in growth and regrowth ability rather than environmental factors.