, Volume 193, Issue 2, pp 293-303
Date: 21 Feb 2007

No difference in competitive ability between invasive North American and native European Lepidium draba populations

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The evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA) hypothesis states that plants introduced into a new range experience reduced herbivory, which in turn results in a shift in resource allocation from herbivore defense to growth. If genotypes of an invasive plant species from its native and introduced ranges are grown under common conditions, introduced genotypes are expected to grow more vigorously than conspecific native genotypes. We tested predictions of the EICA hypothesis with the invasive species Lepidium draba by comparing the growth of genotypes from its native European and introduced western US ranges under common conditions. To test potential differences in competitive ability, we grew L. draba from both continents with either Festuca idahoensis, a weak competitor native to North America, or Festuca ovina, a strong competitor native to Europe. Contrary to EICA predictions, there were no differences in the performance of native and introduced L. draba, independent of whether plants were grown with F. idahoensis, F. ovina, or alone. The strong competitor, F. ovina impaired the growth of L. draba more than the weak competitor F. idahoensis and conversely, F. idahoensis was generally more impaired by L. draba than was F. ovina. While the native F. idahoensis was equally affected by L. draba regardless of range, F. ovina was not: US L. draba had a stronger negative effect on F. ovina growth than European L. draba. Our data suggest that the EICA hypothesis is not suitable to explain the invasion success of L. draba in the US. Instead, the greater competitive effect of L. draba on the North American F. idahoensis and the asymmetric competitive effect of L draba from different origins on F. ovina may indicate superior competitive ability for resources, or the presence of allelopathic traits in L. draba, to which plant species in non-native ranges are maladapted.