Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Impacts of dominant plant species on trait composition of communities: comparison between the native and invaded ranges.

Abstract

Most studies on the impacts of plant invasions focus on species richness or diversity of invaded communities, but much less attention has been paid to structural changes such as the representation of species with different traits. To bridge this knowledge gap, we assess the impact of dominant species on the trait composition of recipient communities (i.e., how species with certain height, seed mass, specific leaf area, clonality, and life form are represented in the vegetation plots sampled). We sampled vegetation that comprised three species native to Eurasia and invasive in North America (i.e., Agrostis capillaris, Bromus tectorum, and Cirsium arvense) and three species native to North America and invasive in Europe (i.e., Aster novi-belgii, Lupinus polyphyllus, and Solidago canadensis), in both their native and invaded ranges. This study system based on reciprocal inter-continental invasions allowed us to assess whether the impact on trait composition differed (1) between the native and invaded ranges and (2) between the two continents. The relationships between species' dominance and trait composition were tested using linear mixed-effect models and ordination methods. A general trend was that dominant species with an impact on species richness also had an impact on trait composition, especially in North America, where even the native dominants affected the trait composition of the community. Further, the impact of Eurasian dominants in North America was stronger than that associated with the opposite direction of invasion, due to a strong negative effect of Eurasian invaders on local tall clonal perennials. Our results show that (1) the traits of species in the invaded community co-determine the impact of invasion and are related to the impacts on species richness and composition; (2) the impacts on trait composition differ between the native and invaded ranges; and (3) the direction of invasion affects the impact on trait composition.