Journal article

Functional similarity and dissimilarity facilitate alien plant invasiveness along biotic and abiotic gradients in an arid protected area

  • El-Barougy, Reham F. Department of Botany and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Damietta University, New Damietta, Egypt
  • Elgamal, Ibrahim Nature Conservation Sector, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Cairo, 11728, Egypt
  • Rohr, Rudolf P. Department of Biology, University of Fribourg,Switzerland
  • Probert, Anna F. Department of Biology, University of Fribourg,Switzerland
  • Khedr, Abdel-Hamid A. Department of Botany and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Damietta University, New Damietta, Egypt
  • Bacher, Sven Department of Biology, University of Fribourg,Switzerland
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    01.06.2020
Published in:
  • Biological Invasions. - 2020, vol. 22, no. 6, p. 1997–2016
English Two contradictory hypotheses have been put forth to forecast alien invasiveness: being either functionally similar, or dissimilar, to resident natives along environmental gradients. The ‘try-harder’ hypothesis predicts that alien plants will be functionally dissimilar to natives and should thus exhibit exaggerated trait values when compared to natives in respect to resource extraction or stress tolerance. In contrast, the ‘join- the-locals’ hypothesis, which is compatible with “environmental filtering”, predicts functional similarities among alien and native species in richer, but not in resource- limited environments. Here, we propose a framework that links the successful alien plant strategy, i.e. being functionally similar or dissimilar to natives, to the harshness of the environment and the availability of resources. We tested these two hypotheses using a trait-environment dataset of 33 alien and 130 native plants in 96 sites covering a gradient of soil resources (organic matter, nitrogen, soil moisture) in Saint- Katherine, an arid protected area in Egypt. We estimated 18 interaction coefficients between three candidate traits (specific leaf area, above-ground biomass, height) of alien and native plants as well as soil resources using linear mixed-effects models. Additionally, we calculated the mean and the hierarchical functional distance among aliens and natives along soil gradients. Our results revealed that in extreme resource- limited environments, aliens and natives were functionally similar and had relatively equal trait values consistent with environmental filtering, thus supporting the ‘join-the- locals’ hypothesis. However, in environments richer in resources, aliens and natives were functionally dissimilar with aliens exhibiting more exploitative trait values (taller, higher SLA and biomass) than natives, providing support for the ‘try-harder’ hypothesis. While demonstrated in only one arid system, results suggest that linking soil resource availability with functional divergence and convergence among native and alien plants could be used as an informative strategy to predict alien invasiveness. Hence, future studies should investigate the functional response of alien and native plants in different environments against different resource gradients to test for the generality of the patterns we found.
Faculty
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Department
Département de Biologie
Language
  • English
Classification
Biology
License
License undefined
Identifiers
Persistent URL
https://folia.unifr.ch/unifr/documents/308649
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