Adaptations of native plants to invasive plants

I often get questions about what the long-term outlook is like for native plants, so it was great to see a study that looks at genetic adaptations of native species in invaded grasslands.  The authors have been studying adapations of native grasses in grasslands invaded by Russian knapweed, Acroptilon repens.  They found that native grass species taken from invaded areas were better able to grow compared to the same grass species taken from uninvaded areas when planted with a novel invader, Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense.  The authors recommend conserving populations of native species growing with invasive species to encourage new adaptations that could be used in restoration projects.  Let’s hope lots of native species harbor the potential to adapt to invasions.

Ferrero-Serrano, Á., Hild, A. L. and Mealor, B. A. 2011. Can invasive species enhance competitive ability and restoration potential in native grass populations? Restoration Ecology, 19: 545–551. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2009.00611.x

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