Plasticity responses of an invasive macrophyte species to inorganic carbon availability and to the interaction with a native species
Climatic changes predict alteration in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in freshwater ecosystems. However, the responses of invasive submerged macrophytes to DIC are rarely assessed. We evaluated the phenotypic plasticity of the invasive macrophyte Hydrilla verticillata in response to DIC, and how the presence of a native, Egeria najas, influences plasticity of the invader. Both species grew under three DIC levels in monocultures and mixed cultures. In monocultures, H. verticillata’s relative growth rates (RGR) were higher than E. najas’s RGR in most treatments. In addition, increasing DIC leads to faster RGR for H. verticillata, evidencing its superior performance at higher DIC levels. In mixed cultures, H. verticillata grew faster in all treatments. We also found a larger number of branches of H. verticillata in both types of cultures, evidencing greater dispersal ability with increasing DIC. In conclusion, higher H. verticillata RGR with increasing DIC indicates that this species exhibited greater plasticity to carbon availability than the native species, which can partially explain its invasion success in ecosystems around the world. Our results also suggest that H. verticillata will benefit from increasing DIC in freshwater ecosystems during scenarios of climate change.
KeywordsJack-and-master Species invasions Aquatic macrophytes Carbon Climate change Hydrilla verticillata
We thank T. X. Melo for support during experimental period and critical reading of this manuscript, and Katya Kovalenko (Associate Editor) and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. We also thank the colleagues from the Aquatic Macrophytes Laboratory for productive discussions and experimental support. J. V. B. Fasoli acknowledges the Brazilian Council of Research (CNPq) for providing a scholarship. S. M. Thomaz and R.P. Mormul are Productivity Researchers from CNPq and acknowledge this agency for constant funding. E. R. Cunha thanks Fundação Araucária (an organization of the Government of state of Paraná, Brazil) and Itaipu Binacional for providing a scholarship. This work was partially supported by Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), an organ of the Brazilian Government for the training of human resources, and Itaipu Binacional.
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Conflicts of interest
We declare that we have no conflict of interest.
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