Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Evolution of physiological performance in invasive plants under climate change.

Abstract

Climate change is expected to promote biological invasions. Invasive species often undergo adaptive evolution, but whether invasive species show greater evolutionary potential than their native counterparts under climate change has rarely been evaluated. We conducted experimental evolution trials comparing the evolution of physiological performance (light-saturated photosynthetic rate, Amax) of coexisting and closely related (1) invasive-native species pairs from Arid, Alpine, and Antarctic ecosystems, and (2) an invasive-naturalized species pair from a Mediterranean ecosystem differing in invasiveness. Experiments were conducted over three generations and under four environments of temperature and water availability resembling typical and climate change conditions in each ecosystem. Amax increased across generations for most species. Invasive species from Arid, Alpine, and Antarctic ecosystems showed similar, greater, and lesser evolution of Amax than their native counterparts, respectively. The Mediterranean invasive species showed greater evolution of Amax than its naturalized congener. Similar patterns were observed in all four experimental environments for each ecosystem, suggesting that comparable responses may be expected under climate change scenarios. All study species showed a positive association between Amax and reproductive output. Results suggest that invasive plants and their native (or naturalized) counterparts would show similar evolutionary responses of physiological performance to global warming and drought.