An ecological comparison of Impatiens glandulifera Royle in the native and introduced range
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- Tanner, R.A., Jin, L., Shaw, R. et al. Plant Ecol (2014) 215: 833. doi:10.1007/s11258-014-0335-x
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Understanding the ecology of plant species in their whole range (native and introduced) can provide insights into those that become problematic weeds in the introduced range despite being benign components of the vegetative community in the native range. We studied the morphological traits of Impatiens glandulifera in the native (Indian Himalayas) and introduced (UK) range and evaluated what influences natural enemies and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have on plant performance. We compared height, total leaf area, root: shoot ratio, natural enemy damage and the colonisation of AMF from individual plants within and between ranges twice in 2010 during the months of June and August. In addition, in August 2010, we estimated the number of reproductive units (expressed as the sum of flowers, seed capsule and seeds) at each site. We found that all morphological traits varied between populations and countries, though in general introduced populations, and the semi-natural population in India, showed higher performance compared to natural native populations. There was only an indication that natural enemy damage, which was significantly higher in the native range, negatively affected reproductive units. Within the introduced range, the percentage colonisation of AMF was negatively associated with plant performance indicating that I. glandulifera may associate with an incompatible AMF species incurring a cost to invasive populations. We conclude that species which are heavily regulated in the native range, though still show high levels of performance, should be considered undesirable introductions into similar ecoclimatic ranges due to the potential that these species will become highly invasive species.