Can the life-history strategy explain the success of the exotic trees Ailanthus altissima and Robinia pseudoacacia in Iberian floodplain forests?
AuthorsCastro Díez, María del Pilar; Valle Torres, Guillermo; González Muñoz, Noelia; Alonso Fernández, Álvaro
IdentifiersPermanent link (URI): http://hdl.handle.net/10017/20531
Plos One, 2014, v. 9, n. 6, p-e100254
info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/MICINN//CGL2010-16388/ES/EVALUACION DEL RIESGO INVASOR DE ARBOLES EXOTICOS: PATRONES DE DISTRIBUCION, EXITO INVASOR E IMPACTO EN LOS ECOSISTEMAS/
info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/JCCM//POII10-0179-4700/ES/Evaluación integral de los impactos de los árboles exóticos invasores sobre los ecosistemas fluviales y de ribera de Castilla-La Mancha/
info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/CAM//S2009%2FAMB-1783/ES/Restauración y conservación de los ecosistemas madrileños: respuesta frente al cambio global/
Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 3.0 España
© Castro Díez et al, 2014
Ailanthus altissima and Robina pseudoacacia are two successful invasive species of floodplains in central Spain. We aim to explain their success as invaders in this habitat by exploring their phenological pattern, vegetative and sexual reproductive growth, and allometric relations, comparing them with those of the dominant native tree Populus alba. During a full annual cycle we follow the timing of vegetative growth, flowering, fruit set, leaf abscission and fruit dispersal. Growth was assessed by harvesting two-year old branches at the peaks of vegetative, flower and fruit production and expressing the mass of current-year leaves, stems, inflorescences and infrutescences per unit of previous-year stem mass. Secondary growth was assessed as the increment of trunk basal area per previous-year basal area. A. altissima and R. pseudoacacia showed reproductive traits (late flowering phenology, insect pollination, late and long fruit set period, larger seeds) different from P. alba and other native trees, which may help them to occupy an empty reproductive niche and benefit from a reduced competition for the resources required by reproductive growth. The larger seeds of the invaders may make them less dependent on gaps for seedling establishment. If so, these invaders may benefit from the reduced gap formation rate of flood-regulated rivers of the study region. The two invasive species showed higher gross production than the native, due to the higher size of pre-existing stems rather than to a faster relative growth rate. The latter was only higher in A. altissima for stems, and in R. pseudoacacia for reproductive organs. A. altissima and R. pseudoacacia showed the lowest and highest reproductive/vegetative mass ratio, respectively. Therefore, A. altissima may outcompete native P. alba trees thanks to a high potential to overtop coexisting plants whereas R. pseudoacacia may do so by means of a higher investment in sexual reproduction.
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