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Coexistence between native and exotic species is facilitated by asymmetries in competitive ability and susceptibility to herbivores

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Email: heard.m@gmail.com

Abstract

Differences between native and exotic species in competitive ability and susceptibility to herbivores are hypothesized to facilitate coexistence. However, little fieldwork has been conducted to determine whether these differences are present in invaded communities. Here, we experimentally examined whether asymmetries exist between native and exotic plants in a community invaded for over 200 years and whether removing competitors or herbivores influences coexistence. We found that natives and exotics exhibit pronounced asymmetries, as exotics are competitively superior to natives, but are more significantly impacted by herbivores. We also found that herbivore removal mediated the outcome of competitive interactions and altered patterns of dominance across our field sites. Collectively, these findings suggest that asymmetric biotic interactions between native and exotic plants can help to facilitate coexistence in invaded communities.

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