Allelopathic and competitive interactions between native and alien plants.
The novel-weapons and homeland-security hypotheses are based on the idea that aliens and natives are not adapted to each other's allelochemicals as they did not co-evolve. However, as only a few studies have tested this, it remains unclear how important co-evolutionary history is in determining the strength of allelopathic interactions between aliens and natives. Here, we tested for potential pairwise allelopathic effects on each other of five alien and five native herbaceous species in China. We did a germination experiment and a competition experiment. In the germination experiment, we tested whether aqueous extracts of the ten study species had allelopathic effects on each other's seed germination. In the competition experiment, we tested whether the alien and native species differed in their competitive effects and responses, and whether these were changed by the presence of activated carbon-a presumed allelopathy neutralizer- in the soil. Plant extracts had negative allelopathic effects on seed germination. This was particularly the case for extracts from the native species. Moreover, aqueous extracts had slightly stronger negative effects on germination of the aliens than on germination of the natives. In the competition experiment, on the other hand, the natives suffered more from competition than the alien species did, but we could not relate this to allelopathy. Alien plants had negative competitive and allelopathic effects on native plants, but the reverse was also true. These alien-native interactions, however, were not consistently stronger or weaker than native-native or alien-alien interactions.