Nitrogen acquisition of Central European herbaceous plants that differ in their global naturalization success.
It is frequently assumed that species capable of fast nitrogen (N) acquisition under different N-availability conditions should have a higher establishment success after their introduction into new regions. However, few experimental studies have explicitly tested this. Our multispecies experiment tested whether global naturalization success of plant species native to Central Europe is related to a high N-acquisition ability. We selected 41 common herbaceous species native to Germany that have all become naturalized, and thus been introduced, elsewhere. Twenty-two of these species are widely naturalized and 19 are less widely naturalized. We grew the 41 grassland species, sampled in Germany, under low and high N-conditions in a greenhouse experiment, and assessed their N-acquisition abilities. Although the widely naturalized species grew faster on average, they had a significantly lower N-uptake rate than the less widely naturalized ones. The widely naturalized species, however, had a marginally significantly higher root-mass fraction. Despite these differences, the total plant N-content did on average not differ between the two groups of species. However, N-addition tended to increase the total plant N-content more for the widely naturalized species than for the less widely naturalized species. Nitrogen addition also increased biomass production and N-uptake rate, and decreased the root-mass fraction of plants, but these responses did not differ between widely and less widely naturalized species. We conclude that although fast-growing species tend to have a higher global naturalization success than slow-growing species, the naturalization success of plants is not necessarily related to a high N-acquisition ability. A plain language summary is available for this article.