Conspecific Plasticity and Invasion: Invasive Populations of Chinese Tallow (Triadica sebifera)ﾠHave Performance Advantage over Native Populations Only in Low Soil Salinity
Chen, Leiyi; Tiu, Candice J.; Peng, Shaolin; Siemann, Evan
Global climate change may increase biological invasions in part because invasive species may have greater phenotypic plasticity than native species. This may be especially important for abiotic stresses such as salt inundation related to increased hurricane activity or sea level rise. If invasive species indeed have greater plasticity, this may reflect genetic differences between populations in the native and introduced ranges. Here, we examined plasticity of functional and fitness-related traits of Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) populations from the introduced and native ranges that were grown along a gradient of soil salinity (control: 0 ppt; Low: 5 ppt; Medium: 10 ppt; High: 15 ppt) in a greenhouse. We used both norm reaction and plasticity index (PIv) to estimate the conspecific phenotypic plasticity variation between invasive and native populations. Overall, invasive populations had higher phenotypic plasticity of height growth rate (HGR), aboveground biomass, stem biomass and specific leaf area (SLA). The plasticity Index (PIv) of height growth rate (HGR) and SLA each were higher for plants from invasive populations. Absolute performance was always comparable or greater for plants from invasive populations versus native populations with the greatest differences at low stress levels. Our results were consistent with the ?Master-of-some? pattern for invasive plants in which the fitness of introduced populations was greater in more benign conditions. This suggests that the greater conspecific phenotypic plasticity of invasive populations compared to native populations may increase invasion success in benign conditions but would not provide a potential interspecific competitive advantage in higher salinity soils that may occur with global climate change in coastal areas.