Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A new isotope framework to decipher leaf-root nitrogen allocation and assimilation among plants in a tropical invaded ecosystem.

Abstract

Exotic plant invasion is an urgent issue occurring in the biosphere, which can be stimulated by environmental nitrogen (N) loading. However, the allocation and assimilation of soil N sources between leaves and roots remain unclear for plants in invaded ecosystems, which hampers the understanding of mechanisms behind the expansion of invasive plants and the co-existence of native plants. This work established a new framework to use N concentrations and isotopes of soils, roots, and leaves to quantitatively decipher intra-plant N allocation and assimilation among plant species under no invasion and under the invasion of Chromolaena odorata and Ageratina adenophora in a tropical ecosystem of SW China. We found that the assimilation of N derived from both soil ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-) were higher in leaves than in roots for invasive plants, leading to higher leaf N levels than native plants. Compared with the same species under no invasion, most native plants under invasion showed higher N concentrations and NH4+ assimilations in both leaves and roots, and increases in leaf N were higher than in root N for native plants under invasion. These results inform that preferential N allocation, dominated by NH4+-derived N, to leaves over roots as an important N-use strategy for plant invasion and co-existence in the studied tropical ecosystem.