Phenotypic Plasticity of Native vs. Invasive Purple Loosestrife: A Two-State Multivariate Approach

Young Jin Chun, Iowa State University
Michael L. Collyer, Iowa State University
Kirk A. Moloney, Iowa State University
Jason D. Nason, Iowa State University

This article is from Ecology 88 (2007): 1499. Posted with permission.


The differences in phenotypic plasticity between invasive (North American) and native (German) provenances of the invasive plant Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) were examined using a multivariate reaction norm approach testing two important attributes of reaction norms described by multivariate vectors of phenotypic change: the magnitude and direction of mean trait differences between environments. Data were collected for six life history traits from native and invasive plants using a split-plot design with experimentally manipulated water and nutrient levels. We found significant differences between native and invasive plants in multivariate phenotypic plasticity for comparisons between low and high water treatments within low nutrient levels, between low and high nutrient levels within high water treatments, and for comparisons that included both a water and nutrient level change. The significant genotype 3 environment (G 3 E) effects support the argument that invasiveness of purple loosestrife is closely associated with the interaction of high levels of soil nutrient and flooding water regime. Our results indicate that native and invasive plants take different strategies for growth and reproduction; native plants flowered earlier and allocated more to flower production, while invasive plants exhibited an extended period of vegetative growth before flowering to increase height and allocation to clonal reproduction, which may contribute to increased fitness and invasiveness in subsequent years.