Dispersal, abiotic and biotic constraints are all involved in explaining the success of invasive plants but how these factors influence the different life stages of an invader remains poorly known. Focusing on highly invaded riparian habitats we asked: (1) how do propagule pressure, resource availability and resident vegetation influence the success of the invasive Asian vine Humulus japonicus at different stages of its life cycle (i.e. seedling, vegetative and flowering) (2) what is the influence of increasing resource availability on the performance and trait plasticity of H. japonicus compared to a functionally similar co-occurring native species? To answer the first question we performed a repeated field survey along the Gardon River (S France) with detailed measurements of distance to the riverbed, soil characteristics, light availability, and resident vegetation cover. To answer the second question we used a greenhouse experiment to compare the biomass and three functional traits of H. japonicus and Galium aparine along a gradient of increasing water and nitrogen availability. Initial germination success was only determined by abiotic constraints, while the role of biotic resistance increased for later stages with establishment success favoured by the interaction of low resident vegetation cover and high soil fertility, and final integrated success favoured by high light availability. H. japonicus performed better and showed higher plasticity in plant height than G. aparine under increased resource availability while their biomass did not differ in the lower part of the resource gradient. Our study demonstrates that by combining field and experimental studies and analysing responses at different life stages we can gain a more complete understanding of how ecological filters shape successful invasions in the course of the life cycle.
Biological Invasions – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 4, 2017
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