, Volume 228, Issue 3, pp 383-390
Date: 06 Apr 2008

Specific leaf area relates to the differences in leaf construction cost, photosynthesis, nitrogen allocation, and use efficiencies between invasive and noninvasive alien congeners

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Abstract

Comparisons between invasive and native species may not characterize the traits of invasive species, as native species might be invasive elsewhere if they were introduced. In this study, invasive Oxalis corymbosa and Peperomia pellucida were compared with their respective noninvasive alien congeners. We hypothesized that the invasive species have higher specific leaf (SLA) than their respective noninvasive alien congeners, and analyzed the physiological and ecological consequences of the higher SLA. Higher SLA was indeed the most important trait for the two invaders, which was associated with their lower leaf construction cost, higher nitrogen (N) allocation to photosynthesis and photosynthetic N use efficiency (PNUE). The higher N allocation to photosynthesis of the invaders in turn increased their PNUE, N content in photosynthesis, biochemical capacity for photosynthesis, and therefore light-saturated photosynthetic rate. The above resource capture-, use- and growth-related traits may facilitate the two invaders’ invasion, while further comparative studies on a wider range of invasive and noninvasive congeners are needed to understand the generality of this pattern and to fully assess the competitive advantages afforded by these traits.