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Journal of Arid Land  2013, Vol. 5 Issue (3): 284-297    DOI:
Research Articles     
Fluctuating resources, disturbance and plant strategies: diverse mechanisms underlying plant invasions
Ian J RADFORD1, 2*
1 CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Davies Laboratory, Private Mailbag PO, Aitkenvale 4814, Australia;
2 Botany Department, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
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Abstract  This paper examines the hypothesis that non-native plant invasions are related to fluctuating resource availability as proposed by Davis et al. (2000). I measured relative functional responses of both invasive and native plants to changed resource availability due to nutrient enrichment and rainfall, and to increased disturbance. Data are presented from studies in two contrasting ecosystems. First is a series of glasshouse and field experiments on the invader Hieracium lepidulum and associated invasive and native species in subalpine temperate New Zealand. Second is a field study of invasive and native plant responses to altered disturbance regimes and rainfall from tropical savannas of north eastern Australia. Invaders responded differently from native species to changes in resource availability in both subalpine and tropical studies. However, invaders differed among themselves showing that different species exploit different functional niches to invade their respective habitats. These findings contribute to the contention that the fluctuating resource hypothesis does not provide a universal explanation for plant invasions. The diverse functional responses to increased resource availability among invaders in this and previous studies suggest that the cause of invasion depends on unique combinations of habitat and functional attributes of invaders and native assemblages. Such findings imply that universal predictions of what will happen under climate change scenarios across the globe will be difficult to make.

Key wordsdry and wet conditions      spatial distribution      temporal variation      Penman-Monteith model      Loess Plateau     
Received: 15 November 2012      Published: 10 September 2013
Corresponding Authors: Ian J RADFORD     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Ian J RADFORD. Fluctuating resources, disturbance and plant strategies: diverse mechanisms underlying plant invasions. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(3): 284-297.

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