Different flowering phenology of alien invasive species in Spain: evidence for the use of an empty temporal niche?

Authors

  • O. Godoy,

    1.  Laboratorio Internacional de Cambio Global (LINC-Global), Instituto de Recursos Naturales, Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, CSIC, Madrid, Spain
    2.  Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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  • P. Castro-Díez,

    1.  Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
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  • F. Valladares,

    1.  Laboratorio Internacional de Cambio Global (LINC-Global), Instituto de Recursos Naturales, Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, CSIC, Madrid, Spain
    2.  Departamento de Biología y Geología, Área de Biodiversidad & Conservación, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, ESCET, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
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  • M. Costa-Tenorio

    1.  Departamento de Biología Vegetal I, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
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  • Editor
    M. van der Heijden

O. Godoy, Laboratorio Internacional de Cambio Global (LINC-Global), Instituto de Recursos Naturales, Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, CSIC, Serrano 115 dpdo E-28006, Madrid, Spain.
E-mail: ogodoy@ccma.csic.es

Abstract

Flowering phenology is an important and poorly understood plant trait that may possibly be related to the invasiveness potential of alien species. The present work evaluates whether flowering time of invasive alien species is a key trait to overcome the climatic filters operating in continental Mediterranean ecosystems of Spain (characterised by summer drought and low temperatures in winter). We conducted comparisons between the flowering phenology of the invasive species in their native range and in Spain, and between flowering phenology of 91 coexisting invasive–native species pairs. For the alien species, geographical change from the native to the invaded region did not result in shifts in the start and the length of the flowering period. Overall, climatic conditions in the native range of species selected for a flowering pattern is maintained after translocation of the species to another region. Flowering of tropical and temperate invasive alien species peaked in summer, which contrasts with the spring flowering of native and invasive alien species of Mediterranean climate origin. By exploiting this new temporal niche, these invasive alien species native to tropical and temperate regions benefit from reduced competition with natives for abiotic and biotic resources. We suggest that human-mediated actions have reduced the strength of the summer drought filter in particular microhabitats, permitting the invasion of many summer-flowering aliens.

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