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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

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Publication details for Dr Wayne Dawson

Keser, L.H., Dawson, W., Song, Y.B., Yu, F.H., Fischer, M., Dong, M. & van Kleunen, M. (2014). Invasive clonal plant species have a greater root - foraging plasticity than non - invasive ones. Oecologia 174: 1055-1064.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Clonality is frequently positively correlated with plant invasiveness, but which aspects of clonality make some clonal species more invasive than others is not known. Due to their spreading growth form, clonal plants are likely to experience spatial heterogeneity in nutrient availability. Plasticity in allocation of biomass to clonal growth organs and roots may allow these plants to forage for high-nutrient patches. We investigated whether this foraging response is stronger in species that have become invasive than in species that have not. We used six confamilial pairs of native European clonal plant species differing in invasion success in the USA. We grew all species in large pots under homogeneous or heterogeneous nutrient conditions in a greenhouse, and compared their nutrient-foraging response and performance. Neither invasive nor non-invasive species showed significant foraging responses to heterogeneity in clonal growth organ biomass or in aboveground biomass of clonal offspring. Invasive species had, however, a greater positive foraging response in terms of root and belowground biomass than non-invasive species. Invasive species also produced more total biomass. Our results suggest that the ability for strong root foraging is among the characteristics promoting invasiveness in clonal plants.