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Forests are not immune to plant invasions: phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation allow Prunella vulgaris to colonize a temperate evergreen rainforest

AuthorsGodoy, Óscar ; Saldaña, Alfredo; Fuentes, Nicol; Valladares Ros, Fernando ; Gianoli, Ernesto
Issue Date2011
CitationBiological Invasions 13(7): 1615-1625 (2011)
AbstractIn the South American temperate evergreen rainforest (Valdivian forest), invasive plants are mainly restricted to open sites, being rare in the shaded understory. This is consistent with the notion of closed-canopy forests as communities relatively resistant to plant invasions. However, alien plants able to develop shade tolerance could be a threat to this unique forest. Phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation are two mechanisms enhancing invasiveness. Phenotypic plasticity can promote local adaptation by facilitating the establishment and persistence of invasive species in novel environments. We investigated the role of these processes in the recent colonization of Valdivian forest understory by the perennial alien herb Prunella vulgaris from nearby populations in open sites. Using reciprocal transplants, we found local adaptation between populations. Field data showed that the shade environment selected for taller plants and greater specific leaf areas. We found population differentiation and within-population genetic variation in both mean values and reaction norms to light variation of several ecophysiological traits in common gardens from seeds collected in sun and shade populations. The colonization of the forest resulted in a reduction of plastic responses to light variation, which is consistent with the occurrence of genetic assimilation and suggests that P. vulgaris individuals adapted to the shade have reduced probabilities to return to open sites. All results taken together confirm the potential for rapid evolution of shade tolerance in P. vulgaris and suggest that this alien species may pose a threat to the native understory flora of Valdivian forest. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
DescriptionEl pdf del artículo es la versión post-print.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-010-9919-0
Identifiersdoi: 10.1007/s10530-010-9919-0
issn: 1387-3547
e-issn: 1573-1464
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