Biodiversity Science ›› 2010, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (6): 569-576.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.2010.569

Special Issue: Biological Invasions: Mechanisms Impacts and Management;

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The relationship between functional traits and invasiveness of alien plants

Jian Liu1, 2; Junmin Li1, 3; Hua Yu4; Weiming He1; Feihai Yu5; Weiguo Sang1; Guofang Liu1; Ming Dong1*   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093

    2Institute of Environment Research, Shandong University, Jinan 250100

    3Institute of Ecology, Taizhou University, Linhai, Zhejiang 317000

    4Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100193

    5College of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
  • Received:2010-04-30 Online:2011-01-31
  • Ming Dong

Understanding the functional traits and ecological mechanisms associated with successful invasions of alien plants is a key role of the field of invasion ecology. Through literature review and analysis of plant functional traits contributing to successful plant invasions and the demands for functional traits at different invasion stages, we discuss the relationships between the functional traits and invasiveness of alien plants as well as related ecological mechanisms. Functional traits that have been studied in relation to their invasions mainly include seed characters, and morphological, developmental, physiological, clonal and propagation characteristics, as well as genetic variation and plasticity of phenotype. The impacts of these functional traits on invasion success vary from one stage to another. At the introduction stage, plant invasions are mainly affected by seed characters. At the establishment stage, stress-tolerance related physiology and propagation traits exert important influences. At the explosion stage, clonal characters and physiological traits related to competitive ability largely contribute to invasion success. Because plant invasions result from interactions between plant functional traits and environmental features, further studies on plant invasions should consider both the effects of invasion stage and specific environmental variables on invasion success.

Key words: diversity index, planar distribution, environment

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