, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 1103–1112 | Cite as

Invasive Rhus typhina invests more in height growth and traits associated with light acquisition than do native and non-invasive alien shrub species

  • Xiangfeng Tan
  • Xiao Guo
  • Weihua Guo
  • Shuna Liu
  • Ning DuEmail author
Original Article


Key message

The preferential investment in height growth and traits associated with light acquisition may provide insight into the invasiveness of Rhus typhina.


Plant traits have been shown to be associated with invasiveness. Rhus typhina, a shrub or small tree native to North America, shows invasiveness in non-native habitats. Compared to the native shrub Vitex negundo var. heterophylla and the non-invasive alien shrub Amorpha fruticosa, R. typhina showed a high photosynthetic capacity and specific leaf area but a low-leaf nitrogen content, indicating that R. typhina gained high photosynthetic income with low-leaf constituent cost. The non-photochemical quenching of R. typhina was the highest among the three species, which can be linked to its capacity for photoprotection under high light conditions. Allometry analyses showed that R. typhina invested more in height growth than the other two species, pointing to its investment strategy in light acquisition. The low leaf nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratio may be associated with the fast growth of R. typhina. Additionally, R. typhina allocated more biomass to photosynthetic leaves than did the other two species. The preferential investment strategies and traits associated with light acquisition may help explain the invasiveness of R. typhina.


Alien species Allometry Plant invasion Plant trait Rhus typhina 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments, which helped improve the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31400173, 31470402, 31770361) and the Basic Work of the Ministry of Science and Technology, China (No. 2015FY1103003-02).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, School of Life ScienceShandong UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Shandong Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Vegetation Ecology, Shandong UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.College of Landscape Architecture and ForestryQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina

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