Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Invasive Plants Take Over

Date:
May 4, 2009
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
New research shows that two key causes of plant invasion -- escape from natural enemies, and increases in plant resources -- act in concert. This result helps to explain the dramatic invasions by exotic plants occurring worldwide. It also indicates that global change is likely to exacerbate invasion by exotic plants.

Global change is likely to exacerbate invasion and spread of exotic plants like leafy spurge, which already costs millions of dollars to control each year.
Credit: Image courtesy of USDA

New research shows that two key causes of plant invasion--escape from natural enemies, and increases in plant resources--act in concert. This result helps to explain the dramatic invasions by exotic plants occurring worldwide. It also indicates that global change is likely to exacerbate invasion by exotic plants.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) ecologist Dana Blumenthal reached these conclusions after studying 243 European plant species and their fungal and viral pests, both in Europe and in the United States.

Blumenthal, based at the ARS Rangeland Resources Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo., and colleagues at the University of North Carolina and in the Czech Republic showed that fast-growing plant species adapted to moist, nitrogen-rich soils had many fungal and viral pathogens in the areas where the weedy species evolved. Once these species arrived here, they escaped many of their long-time enemies.

Such an escape from numerous enemies is thought to provide exotic species with an advantage over native species still burdened by their enemies. This is the first study, however, to show that whether a plant escapes from a few or an unusually larger number of enemies can be predicted from the type of plant: Exotic species that are fast-growing and weedy are likely to have more enemies to escape from.

Unfortunately, these are the same species most favored by global change. Fast-growing weedy species thrive in environments with ample plant resources. And global change increases key plant resources, such as carbon dioxide and soil nitrogen, through increases in the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, respectively.

Fast-growing, weedy exotic species therefore have a double advantage in today's world. Increases in resources enable them to outcompete slow-growing plants. An escape from an unusually large number of enemies enables them to outcompete even fast-growing native plants. As global change proceeds, continuing increases in resource availability are likely to exacerbate such plant invasions.

The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Science Foundation, the European Union, and the Czech Republic supported the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Why Invasive Plants Take Over." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090502082952.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2009, May 4). Why Invasive Plants Take Over. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090502082952.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Why Invasive Plants Take Over." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090502082952.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins