Biodiv Sci ›› 2010, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (6): 615-621.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.2010.615

Special Issue: 外来物种入侵:机制、影响与防控

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Comparison of morphological traits between alligator weed and two congeners under different water and nutrient conditions

Kun Wang, Ji Yang, Jiakuan Chen*()   

  1. Coastal Ecosystems Research Station of the Yangtze River Estuary, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
  • Received:2010-04-22 Accepted:2010-09-26 Online:2010-11-20 Published:2011-01-31
  • Contact: Jiakuan Chen


Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), a worldwide noxious weed, has caused enormous ecological and economic losses in China. To better understand the species’ successful invasion, and to predict relationships between expansion of its population and environmental conditions, we compared morphological traits of alligator weed with two closely related species, i.e. the geographically restricted alien A. pungens and the native A. sessilis, under different water and nutrient conditions in a common garden experiment. Compared to A. pungens and A. sessilis, alligator weed produced more biomass with high availability of water and nutrients, but did not in conditions of low water availability. These results suggest that the invasiveness of alligator weed may be influenced by environmental conditions. In addition, alligator weed had marginally greater specific leaf area (SLA) and phenotypic plasticity than its congeners. Phenotypic plasticity and SLA may thus have predictive value for invasiveness of alien species under multiple environmental conditions.

Key words: Alternanthera philoxeroides, congenetic species, biomass, SLA, phenotypic plasticity, invasion prediction