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Keywords:

  • additive effects;
  • ecological genetics;
  • genotypic diversity;
  • invasive species;
  • nonadditive effects;
  • Spartina alterniflora

Abstract

Although genetic diversity is very important for alien species, which have to cope with new environments, little is known about the role that genetic diversity plays in their invasive success. In this study, we set up a manipulation experiment including three levels of genotypic diversity to test whether genotypic diversity can enhance the invasive ability of alien species, in our case the invasive Spartina alterniflora in China, and to infer the underlying mechanisms. There was no significant relationship between genotypic diversity and parameters of performance in the first year; however, from the summer of the second year onwards, genotypic diversity enhanced four of the six parameters of performance. After two growing seasons, there were significant positive relationships between genotypic diversity and maximum spread distance, patch size, shoot number per patch, and aboveground biomass. Moreover, abundance of the native dominant species Scirpus mariqueter was marginally significantly decreased with genotypic diversity of S. alterniflora, suggesting that enhanced invasive ability of S. alterniflora may have depressed the growth of the native species. There was no significant difference in most measures of performance among six genotypes, but we observed a transgressive over performance in four measures in multiple-genotype patches. At the end of the experiment, there were significant nonadditive effects of genotypic diversity according to Monte Carlo permutations, in six-genotype, but not three-genotype plots. Our results indicated that both additive and nonadditive effects played roles in the positive relationship between genetic diversity and invasion success, and nonadditive effects were stronger as duration increased.