, Volume 139, Issue 1, pp 140–149 | Cite as

Competitive effect versus competitive response of invasive and native wetland plant species

  • Heather A. HagerEmail author
Community Ecology


Non-native plants can have adverse effects on ecosystem structure and processes by invading and out-competing native plants. I examined the hypothesis that mature plants of non-native and native species exert differential effects on the growth of conspecific and heterospecific seedlings by testing predictions that (1) invasive vegetation has a stronger suppressive effect on seedlings than does native vegetation, (2) seedlings of invasive species are better able to grow in established vegetation than are native seedlings, and (3) invasive species facilitate conspecific and inhibit heterospecific seedling growth. I measured growth rates and interaction intensities for seedlings of four species that were transplanted into five wetland monoculture types: invasive Lythrum salicaria; native L. alatum, Typha angustifolia, T. latifolia; unvegetated control. Invasive L. salicaria had the strongest suppressive effect on actual and per-individual bases, but not on a per-gram basis. Seedlings of T. latifolia were better able to grow in established vegetation than were those of L. salicaria and T. angustifolia. These results suggest that L. salicaria is not a good invader of established vegetation, but once established, it is fairly resistant to invasion. Thus, it is likely that disturbance of established vegetation facilitates invasion by L. salicaria, allowing it to compete with other species in even-aged stands where its high growth rate and consequent production of aboveground biomass confer a competitive advantage.


Lythrum spp. Per-gram and per-individual competitive effects Plant invasion Transplant experiment  Typha spp. Wetlands 



Many thanks for assistance in the field: Sarah Yakimowski, Fiona Goorman, Rachelle McGregor, Tyler Cobb, Angela Strecker, Kathryn Yurkonis, Bethany Rector, Ivana Rósova and Brent Lee from Carlos Avery. Rolf Vinebrooke, Mary Vetter, Liesbeth Bakker and two reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. The following agencies provided funds: NSERC, Regina Natural History Society, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management, University of Regina; a home for the experiment: Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area–Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; and accommodations: Cedar Creek Natural History Area.


  1. Alpert P, Bone E, Holzapfel C (2000) Invasiveness, invasibility and the role of environmental stress in the spread of non-native plants. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 3:52–66Google Scholar
  2. Bakker J, Wilson SD (2001) Competitive abilities of introduced and native grasses. Plant Ecol 157:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bruce KA, Cameron GN, Harcombe PA (1995) Initiation of a new woodland type on the Texas coastal prairie by the Chinese tallow tree [ Sapium sebiferum (L.) Roxb.]. Bull Torrey Bot Club 122:215–225Google Scholar
  4. Bunn SE, Davies PM, Kellaway DM, Prosser IP (1998) Influence of invasive macrophytes on channel morphology and hydrology in an open tropical lowland stream, and potential control by riparian shading. Freshwater Biol 39:171–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Conway WC, Smith LM, Bergan JF (2002) Potential allelopathic interference by the exotic Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum). Am Midl Nat 148:43–53Google Scholar
  6. D’Antonio CM (1993) Mechanisms controlling invasion of coastal plant communities by the alien succulent Carpobrotus edulis. Ecology 74:83–95Google Scholar
  7. D’Antonio CM, Vitousek PM (1992) Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle, and global change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:63–87Google Scholar
  8. D’Antonio CM, Hughes RF, Vitousek PM (2001) Factors influencing dynamics of two invasive C4 grasses in seasonally dry Hawaiian woodlands. Ecology 82:89–104Google Scholar
  9. Farnsworth EJ, Ellis DR (2001) Is purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) an invasive threat to freshwater wetlands? Conflicting evidence from several ecological metrics. Wetlands 21:199–209Google Scholar
  10. Galatowitsch SM, Anderson NO, Ascher PD (1999) Invasiveness in wetland plants in temperate North America. Wetlands 19:733–755Google Scholar
  11. Gallardo MT, Martin BB, Martin DF (1998) An annotated bibliography of allelopathic properties of cattails, Typha spp. Environ Chem 61:52–58Google Scholar
  12. Gaudet CL, Keddy PA (1988) A comparative approach to predicting competitive ability from plant traits. Nature 334:242–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gaudet CL, Keddy PA (1995) Competitive performance and species distribution in shoreline plant communities: a comparative approach. Ecology 76:280–291Google Scholar
  14. Gerry AK, Wilson SD (1995) The influence of initial size on the competitive responses of six plant species. Ecology 76:272–279Google Scholar
  15. Goldberg DE (1987) Neighborhood competition in an old-field plant community. Ecology 68:1211–1223Google Scholar
  16. Goldberg DE (1990) Components of resource competition in plant communities. In: Grace JB, Tilman D (eds) Perspectives on plant competition. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 27–49Google Scholar
  17. Goldberg DE, Fleetwood L (1987) Competitive effect and response in four annual plants. J Ecol 75:1131–1143Google Scholar
  18. Goldberg DE, Scheiner SM (2001) ANOVA and ANCOVA: Field competition experiments. In: Scheiner SM, Gurevitch J (eds) Design and analysis of ecological experiments, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 77–98Google Scholar
  19. Goldberg DE, Werner PA (1983) Equivalence of competitors in plant communities: a null hypothesis and a field experimental approach. Am J Bot 70:1098–1104Google Scholar
  20. Goodwin J (1992) The role of mycorrhizal fungi in competitive interactions among native bunchgrasses and alien weeds: a review and synthesis. Northwest Sci 66:251–260Google Scholar
  21. Gordon DR (1998) Effects of invasive, non-indigenous plant species on ecosystem processes: lessons from Florida. Ecol Appl 8:975–989Google Scholar
  22. Gordon DR, Rice KJ (1993) Competitive effects of grassland annuals on soil water and blue oak (Quercus douglasii) seedlings. Ecology 74:68–82Google Scholar
  23. Grace JB, Harrison JS (1986) The biology of Canadian weeds. 73. Typha latifolia L., Typha angustifolia L. and Typha × glauca Godr. Can J Plant Sci 66:361–379Google Scholar
  24. Grace JB, Wetzel RG (1981) Habitat partitioning and competitive displacement in cattails (Typha): experimental field studies. Am Nat 118:463–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grace JB, Keough J, Guntenspergen GR (1992) Size bias in traditional analyses of substitutive competition experiments. Oecologia 90:429–434Google Scholar
  26. Hager HA (2003) Invasion dynamics of Lythrum salicaria L. PhD thesis, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  27. Hobbie SE (1992) Effects of plant species on nutrient cycling. Trends Ecol Evol 7:336–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holmes PM, Cowling RM (1997) The effects of invasion by Acacia saligna on the guild structure and regeneration capabilities of South African fynbos shrublands. J Appl Ecol 34:317–332Google Scholar
  29. Howard TG (2001) The relationship of total and per-gram rankings in competitive effect to the natural abundance of herbaceous perennials. J Ecol 89:110–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Howard TG, Goldberg DE (2001) Competitive response hierarchies for germination, growth, and survival and their influence on abundance. Ecology 82:979–990Google Scholar
  31. Huenneke LF, Thomson JK (1995) Potential interference between a threatened endemic thistle and an invasive nonnative plant. Conserv Biol 9:416–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnson LC, Damman AWH (1991) Species-controlled Sphagnum decay on a South Swedish raised bog. Oikos 61:234–242Google Scholar
  33. Keddy P, Fraser LH, Wisheu IC (1998) A comparative approach to examine competitive response of 48 wetland plant species. J Veg Sci 9:777–786Google Scholar
  34. Mack MC, D’Antonio CM (1998) Impacts of biological invasions on disturbance regimes. Trends Ecol Evol 13:195–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mack MC, D’Antonio CM, Ley RE (2001) Alteration of ecosystem nitrogen dynamics by exotic plants: a case study of C4 grasses in Hawaii. Ecol Appl 11:1323–1335Google Scholar
  36. Mack RN, Simberloff D, Lonsdale WM, Evans H, Clout M, Bazzaz FA (2000) Biotic invasion: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecol Appl 10:689–710Google Scholar
  37. Makepeace W, Dobson AT, Scott D (1985) Interference phenomena due to mouse-ear and king devil hawkweed. N Z J Bot 23:79–90Google Scholar
  38. Mal TK, Lovett-Doust J, Lovett-Doust L (1997) Time-dependent competitive displacement of Typha angustifolia by Lythrum salicaria. Oikos 79:26–33Google Scholar
  39. Malecki RA, Rawinski TJ (1985) New methods for controlling purple loosestrife. N Y Fish Game J 32:9–19Google Scholar
  40. Meekins JF, McCarthy BC (1999) Competitive ability of Alliaria petiolata. Int J Plant Sci 160:743–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller TE, Werner PA (1987) Competitive effects and responses between plant species in a first-year old-field community. Ecology 68:1201–1210Google Scholar
  42. Nernberg D, Dale MRT (1997) Competition of five native prairie grasses with Bromus inermis under three moisture regimes. Can J Bot 75:2140–2145Google Scholar
  43. O’Hare NK, Dalrymple GH (1997) Wildlife in southern Everglades wetlands invaded by melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Bull Florida Mus Nat Hist 41:1–68Google Scholar
  44. Peltzer DA, Köchy M (2001) Competitive effects of grasses and woody plants in mixed-grass prairie. J Ecol 89:519–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Peltzer DA, Wilson SD, Gerry AK (1998) Competition intensity along a productivity gradient in a low-diversity grassland. Am Nat 151:465–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rachich J, Reader RJ (1999) An experimental study of wetland invasibility by purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Can J Bot 77:1499–1503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reader RJ, Bonser SP (1993) Control of plant frequency on an environmental gradient: effects of abiotic variables, neighbours, and predators on Poa pratensis and Poa compressa (Gramineae). Can J Bot 71:592–597Google Scholar
  48. Reader RJ, Wilson SD, Belcher JW, Wisheu I, Keddy PA, Tilman D, Morris EC, Grace JB, McGraw JB, Olff H, Turkington R, Klein E, Leung Y, Shipley B, van Hulst R, Johansson ME, Nilsson C, Gurevitch J, Grigulis K, Beisner BE (1994) Plant competition in relation to neighbor biomass: an intercontinental study with Poa pratensis. Ecology 75:1753–1760Google Scholar
  49. Rogers HM, Hartemink AE (2000) Soil seed bank and growth rates of an invasive species, Piper aduncum, in the lowlands of Papua New Guinea. J Trop Ecol 16:243–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. SanLeón DG, Izco J, Sánchez JM (1999) Spartina patens as a weed in Galician saltmarshes (NW Iberian Peninsula). Hydrobiologia 415:213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shadel WP, Molofsky J (2002) Habitat and population effects on the germination and early survival of the invasive weed, Lythrum salicaria L. (purple loosestrife). Biol Inv 4:413–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shamsi SRA, Whitehead FH (1974) Comparative eco-physiology of Epilobium hirsutum L. and Lythrum salicaria L. II. Growth and development in relation to light. J Ecol 62:631–645Google Scholar
  53. Shipley B, Keddy PA, Moore DRJ, Lemky K (1989) Regeneration and establishment strategies of emergent macrophytes. J Ecol 77:1093–1110Google Scholar
  54. Steel RGD, Torrie JH (1980) Principles and procedures of statistics: a biometrical approach. 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  55. Stuckey RL (1980) Distributional history of Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) in North America. Bartonia 47:3–20Google Scholar
  56. Thimijan R, Heins R (1983) Photometric, radiometric, and quantum light units of measure: a review of procedures for interconversion. HortScience 18:818–822Google Scholar
  57. Thompson DQ, Stuckey RL, Thompson EB (1987) Spread, impact, and control of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in North American wetlands. United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  58. Thompson K, Hodgson JG, Grime JP, Burke MJW (2001) Plant traits and temporal scale: evidence from a 5-year invasion experiment using native species. J Ecol 89:1054–1060Google Scholar
  59. Treberg M, Husband B (1999) Relationship between the abundance of Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) and plant species richness along the Bar River, Canada. Wetlands 19:118–125Google Scholar
  60. Vitousek PM, Walker LR, Whittacker LD, Mueller-Dombois D, Matson PA (1987) Biological invasion by Myrica faga alters ecosystem development in Hawaii. Science 238:802–804Google Scholar
  61. Wardle DA, Nicholson KS, Ahmed M, Rahman A (1994) Interference effects of the invasive plant Carduus nutans L. against the nitrogen fixation ability of Trifolium repens L. Plant Soil 163:287–297Google Scholar
  62. Weigelt A, Steinlein T, Beyschlag W (2002) Does plant competition intensity rather depend on biomass or on species identity? Basic Appl Ecol 3:85–94Google Scholar
  63. Weihe PE, Neely RK (1997) The effects of shading on competition between purple loosestrife and broad-leaved cattail. Aquat Bot 59:127–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Weiher E, Keddy PA (1995) The assembly of experimental wetland plant communities. Oikos 73:323–335Google Scholar
  65. Weiher E, Wisheu IC, Keddy PA, Moore DRJ (1996) Establishment, persistence, and management implications of experimental wetland plant communities. Wetlands 16:208–218Google Scholar
  66. Welling CH, Becker RL (1993) Reduction of purple lossestrife establishment in northern wetlands. Wildl Soc Bull 21:56–64Google Scholar
  67. Wetzel PR, van der Valk AG (1998) Effects of nutrient and soil moisture on competition between Carex stricta, Phalaris arundinacea, and Typha latifolia. Plant Ecol 138:179–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wilson JB, Agnew ADQ (1992) Positive-feedback switches in plant communities. Adv Ecol Res 23:263–336Google Scholar
  69. Wilson SD, Keddy PA (1986) Species competitive ability and position along a natural stress/disturbance gradient. Ecology 67:1236–1242Google Scholar
  70. Wilson S, Keddy PA (1991) Competition, survivorship and growth in macrophyte communities. Freshwater Biol 25:331–337Google Scholar
  71. Zar JH (1984) Biostatistical analysis, 2nd edn. Prentice Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations