Competitive ability and plasticity of Wedelia trilobata (L.) under wetland hydrological variations.
Growth behavior of different species under different habitats can be studied by comparing the production of biomass, plasticity index and relative competitive interaction. However, these functional traits of invasive species received rare consideration for determining the invasion success of invasive species at wetlands. Here, we examined the effect of water depth at 5 cm and 15 cm (static and fluctuated) with different nutrient concentrations (full-strength (n1), 1/4-strength (n2) and 1/8-strength (n3) Hoagland solution) on functional traits of invasive Wedelia trilobata and its congener native Wedelia chinensis under mono and mixed culture. Water depth of 5 cm with any of the nutrient treatments (n1, n2 and n3) significantly restrained the photosynthesis, leaf nitrogen and photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE) of both W. trilobata and W. chinensis. While, increase in the water depth to 15 cm with low nutrient treatment (n3) reduced more of biomass of W. chinensis under mixed culture. However, relative competition interaction (RCI) was recorded positive for W. trilobata and seemingly W. trilobata benefited more from RCI under high-fluctuated water depth at 15 cm in mixed culture. Therefore, higher PNUE, more competitive ability and higher plasticity may contribute to the invasiveness of W. trilobata in wetlands.