Biodiversity Science ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (4): 378-384.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09077

Special Issue: Conservation Biology: Status Quo and Challenges

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Comparison of leaf construction costs between three invasive species and three native species in South China

Liying Song1, 2, Changlian Peng1, Shaolin Peng2*   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Ecology and Environmental Science in Guangdong Higher Education, College of Life Science, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631
    2 State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275
  • Online:2009-07-20

Construction cost is a quantifiable measure of energy demand for biomass production, and reflects specific growth strategies. Low construction cost is hypothesized to give plant invaders a growth advantage through efficient energy utilization. In this study, three invasive alien species (Mikania micrantha, Wedelia trilobata and Ipomoea cairica) and their co-occurring or phylogenetically related native species (Paederia scandens, Wedelia chinensis and Ipomoea pescaprae) in South China were used as materials for comparing leaf construction costs. These three invasive species exhibited lower mass- (CCmass) and area- (CCarea) based leaf construction costs than the corresponding native species had. Taking the three invasive species as a group, the mean leaf CCmass and CCarea of invasive species were 1.17 g glucose/g and 22.34 g glucose/m2, respectively, which were significantly lower than those for the native species (CCmass = 1.32 g glucose/g and CCarea = 36.93 g glucose/m2). The results testified the lower construction costs for invasive species compared with native ones, which might be a potential mechanism for the successful invasion of plants. Further, statistical analysis revealed significant correlations between leaf construction cost and leaf carbon content, nitrogen content and ash content (Ash) in invasive species. It suggested that the lower leaf construction costs of invasive species were partly due to their lower carbon and nitrogen content, and higher Ash relative to their corresponding native species.

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