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Keywords:

  • California poppy;
  • Chile;
  • competition;
  • Eschscholzia californica;
  • evolution of increased competitive ability;
  • fecundity;
  • invasive species;
  • plant size;
  • trade-offs

Abstract

Invasive plants can be larger and more fecund in their invasive range than in their native range, although it is unknown how often this is a result of a genetically controlled shift in traits, a plastic response to a favourable environment, or a combination thereof. Here we present data from common garden experiments that compare the size and fecundity of native and invasive California poppies, Eschscholzia californica Cham. Individuals from 20 populations, half from California (native) and half from Chile (invasive), were grown both with and without competition from other plants in a container experiment and at two field locations. There were no differences in survival between native and invasive plants at any location. We found significant increases in size and fecundity in invasive populations at two of three locations when poppies were grown without competition from other plants. Our results indicate that genetic shifts in traits have occurred in invasive populations, and that the invasive plants are better at maximizing growth and reproduction in open environments.