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Faster returns on ‘leaf economics’ and different biogeochemical niche in invasive compared with native plant species

Authors

  • JOSEP PENUELAS,

    1. Unitat d'Ecofisiologia i Canvi Global CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • JORDI SARDANS,

    1. Unitat d'Ecofisiologia i Canvi Global CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • JOAN LLUSIÀ,

    1. Unitat d'Ecofisiologia i Canvi Global CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • SUSAN M. OWEN,

    1. Unitat d'Ecofisiologia i Canvi Global CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Spain
    2. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Edinburgh, Penicuik, EH26 0QB Scotland, UK
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  • JOFRE CARNICER,

    1. Unitat d'Ecofisiologia i Canvi Global CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • THOMAS W. GIAMBELLUCA,

    1. Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
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  • ENRICO L. REZENDE,

    1. Departament de Genètica i de Microbiologia, Facultat de Biociències, Edifici C, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • MASHURI WAITE,

    1. Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 3190 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
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  • ÜLO NIINEMETS

    1. Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 3190 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
    2. Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 1, Tartu 51014, Estonia
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Josep Penuelas, CREAF, Facultat de Ciències, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08913 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain, tel. +93 581 13 12, fax +93 581 41 51, e-mail: josep.penuelas@uab.cat

Abstract

Plant-invasive success is one of the most important current global changes in the biosphere. To understand which factors explain such success, we compared the foliar traits of 41 native and 47 alien-invasive plant species in Oahu Island (Hawaii), a location with a highly endemic flora that has evolved in isolation and is currently vulnerable to invasions by exotic plant species. Foliar traits, which in most cases presented significant phylogenetic signal, i.e. closely related species tended to resemble each other due to shared ancestry, separated invasive from native species. Invasive species had lower leaf mass per area and enhanced capacities in terms of productivity (photosynthetic capacity) and nutrient capture both of macro- (N, P, K) and microelements (Fe, Ni, Cu and Zn). All these differences remain highly significant after removing the effects of phylogenetic history. Alien-invasive species did not show higher efficiency at using limiting nutrient resources, but they got faster leaf economics returns and occupied a different biogeochemical niche, which helps to explain the success of invasive plants and suggests that potential increases in soil nutrient availability might favor further invasive plant success.

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