Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Postintroduction evolution contributes to the successful invasion of Chromolaena odorata.

Abstract

The evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA) hypothesis states that, when introduced in a novel habitat, invasive species may reallocate resources from costly quantitative defense mechanisms against enemies to dispersal and reproduction; meanwhile, the refinement of EICA suggests that concentrations of toxins used for qualitative defense against generalist herbivores may increase. Previous studies considered that only few genotypes were introduced to the new range, whereas most studies to test the EICA (or the refinement of EICA) hypotheses did not consider founder effects. In this study, genetic and phenotypic data of Chromolaena odorata populations sampled across native and introduced ranges were combined to investigate the role of postintroduction evolution in the successful invasion of C. odorata. Compared with native populations, the introduced populations exhibited lower levels of genetic diversity. Moreover, different founder effects events were interpreted as the main cause of the genetic structure observed in introduced ranges. Three Florida, two Trinidad, and two Puerto Rico populations may have been the sources of the invasive C. odorata in Asia. When in free of competition conditions, C. odorata plants from introduced ranges perform better than those from native ranges at high nutrient supply but not at low nutrient level. The differences in performance due to competition were significantly greater for C. odorata plants from the native range than those from the introduced range at both nutrient levels. Moreover, the differences in performance by competition were significantly greater for putative source populations than for invasive populations. Quantities of three types of secondary compounds in leaves of invasive C. odorata populations were significantly higher than those in putative source populations. These results provide more accurate evidence that the competitive ability of the introduced C. odorata is increased with post-introduction evolution.