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Open AccessArticle

Functional Divergence Drives Invasibility of Plant Communities at the Edges of a Resource Availability Gradient

Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, via L. Giorgieri 10, 34127 Trieste, Italy
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Diversity 2020, 12(4), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12040148
Received: 26 February 2020 / Revised: 8 April 2020 / Accepted: 9 April 2020 / Published: 9 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Community Ecology: From Theory to Practice)
Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are a serious threat to biodiversity, severely affecting natural habitats and species assemblages. However, no consistent empirical evidence emerged on which functional traits or trait combination may foster community invasibility. Novel insights on the functional features promoting community invasibility may arise from the use of mechanistic traits, like those associated with drought resistance, which have been seldom included in trait-based studies. Here, we tested for the functional strategies of native and invasive assemblage (i.e., environmental filtering hypothesis vs. niche divergence), and we assessed how the functional space determined by native species could influence community invasibility at the edges of a resource availability gradient. Our results showed that invasive species pools need to have a certain degree of differentiation in order to persist in highly invaded communities, suggesting that functional niche divergence may foster community invasibility. In addition, resident native communities more susceptible to invasion are those which, on average, have higher resource acquisition capacity, and lower drought resistance coupled with an apparently reduced water-use efficiency. We advocate the use of a mechanistic perspective in future research to comprehensively understand invasion dynamics, providing also new insights on the factors underlying community invasibility in different ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: fast–slow plant economics spectrum; functional traits; invasion ecology; mechanistic traits; trait probability density fast–slow plant economics spectrum; functional traits; invasion ecology; mechanistic traits; trait probability density
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Tordoni, E.; Petruzzellis, F.; Nardini, A.; Bacaro, G. Functional Divergence Drives Invasibility of Plant Communities at the Edges of a Resource Availability Gradient. Diversity 2020, 12, 148.

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