Intraspecific diversity and dominant genotypes resist plant invasions




Numerous studies have asked whether communities with many species deter invasions more so than do species-poor communities or whether dominant species deter invasion by colonizing species. However, little is known about whether high intraspecific diversity can deter biological invasions or whether particular genotypes might deter invasions. In this study, we present experimental evidence that intraspecific diversity and particular genotypes of tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, can act as a barrier to colonization by new species. We found that biomass of colonizing species was negatively correlated with genotypic diversity, and particular genotypes affected the richness, cover, and biomass of colonizing species. Stem density of S. altissima increased with genotypic diversity and varied among genotypes, suggesting that stem density is a key mechanism in limiting colonization dynamics in this system. Our results indicate that the loss of intraspecific diversity within a dominant plant species can increase susceptibility to plant invasions.