Do species of invaded communities differ in their vulnerability to being eliminated by the dominant alien plants?
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- Hejda, M. Biol Invasions (2013) 15: 1989. doi:10.1007/s10530-013-0426-y
Invasions are associated with loss of diversity and changes in species composition. This study aims to provide evidence if this loss happens at random or if the loss is related to functional traits of native species. Traits of species in communities dominated by 13 plants alien to Central Europe were compared to those found in the adjacent uninvaded vegetation. There is a weak but significant non-random pattern in the distribution of traits between the invaded and adjacent uninvaded vegetation. For example, species possessing a taproot, annuals but also juveniles of trees tend to be proportionally more abundant in the invaded vegetation, suggesting they are impacted less than species with high clonal index, perennial polycarpic species and species without a taproot, which are proportionally more represented in the uninvaded vegetation. Fast laterally spreading species, trees’ juveniles and woody species in general are proportionally more frequent in the invaded vegetation, while biennials, slow laterally spreading species but also shrubs are proportionally more frequent in the uninvaded vegetation. Juveniles of trees may compete successfully with the aliens due to being adapted to thrive in low light conditions. Annuals may thrive in the invaded communities by possessing a life strategy different from most of the selected aliens. Possessing a taproot appears to be another trait important for the successful coexistence with the dominant invasive aliens, possibly pointing to the importance of underground competition. Clonal perennial polycarpic herbs are species functionally most similar to most of the selected aliens, and these species were found to be most underrepresented in the invaded vegetation.