Fast seedling root growth leads to competitive superiority of invasive plants

Fast seedling root growth leads to competitive superiority of invasive plants The competitive superiority of invasive plants plays a key role in the process of plant invasions, enabling invasive plants to overcome the resistance of local plant communities. Fast aboveground growth and high densities lead to the competitive superiority of invasive species in the competition for light. However, little is understood of the role belowground root competition may play in invasion. We conducted an experiment to test the effect of root growth on the performance of an invasive shrub Cassia alata, a naturalized, non-invasive shrub Corchorus capsularis, and a native shrub Desmodium reticulatum. We compared seedling growth of the three species and their competitive ability in situ. The roots of the C. alata seedlings grew much faster than those of C. capsularis and D. reticulatum during the entire growth period although C. alata had shorter shoots than D. reticulatum. Furthermore, C. alata showed an apparent competition advantage compared to the other two species as evidenced by less biomass reduction in intraspecific competition and higher competitive effects in interspecific competition. Our study reveals that fast seedling root growth may be important in explaining the competitive advantages of invasive plants. Future studies should pay more attention to the belowground traits of invasive plants, the trade-off between shoot and root growth, and the role of root competition in affecting the population dynamics of invasive plants and the structures of invaded communities. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biological Invasions Springer Journals

Fast seedling root growth leads to competitive superiority of invasive plants

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Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology; Freshwater & Marine Ecology; Plant Sciences; Developmental Biology
ISSN
1387-3547
eISSN
1573-1464
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10530-018-1664-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The competitive superiority of invasive plants plays a key role in the process of plant invasions, enabling invasive plants to overcome the resistance of local plant communities. Fast aboveground growth and high densities lead to the competitive superiority of invasive species in the competition for light. However, little is understood of the role belowground root competition may play in invasion. We conducted an experiment to test the effect of root growth on the performance of an invasive shrub Cassia alata, a naturalized, non-invasive shrub Corchorus capsularis, and a native shrub Desmodium reticulatum. We compared seedling growth of the three species and their competitive ability in situ. The roots of the C. alata seedlings grew much faster than those of C. capsularis and D. reticulatum during the entire growth period although C. alata had shorter shoots than D. reticulatum. Furthermore, C. alata showed an apparent competition advantage compared to the other two species as evidenced by less biomass reduction in intraspecific competition and higher competitive effects in interspecific competition. Our study reveals that fast seedling root growth may be important in explaining the competitive advantages of invasive plants. Future studies should pay more attention to the belowground traits of invasive plants, the trade-off between shoot and root growth, and the role of root competition in affecting the population dynamics of invasive plants and the structures of invaded communities.

Journal

Biological InvasionsSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 17, 2018

References

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