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PLOS ONE  2013 

Linking Trait Differences to Community Dynamics: Evidence from Eupatorium adenophorum and Co-Occurring Native Species during a Three-Year Succession

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050247

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Trait differences between invasive and native species are believed to be closely related to whether the former are successful. However, few studies have measured trait differences between invasive and native species directly under field conditions or during long term experiments. We examined the phenological pattern, plant height and biomass accumulation and allocation of Crofton weed (Eupatorium adenophorum Spreng.) and co-occurring native species in a community during a three-year succession. The phenological pattern of Crofton weed differed from that of co-occurring native species. Crofton weed had longer vegetative stage (when resources were more available), a higher biomass accumulation and a higher above/below-ground ratio compared to native species. Crofton weed was shorter than grasses and two forbs (Artemisia tangutica and Cynoglossum amabile) during its first year of growth, but was significantly taller than all other species during subsequent years. The dominance (calculated as the importance value) of Crofton weed was the highest among all other species and continually increased over time while the dominance of co-occurring native species decreased. This study provides direct field evidence that trait differences are important to plant invasion.


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