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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Aquatic and Riparian Weed Management to Protect U.S. Water Resources in the Far West United States

Location: Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research

Title: A functional trait perspective on plant invasion

Authors
item Drenovsky, Rebecca -
item Grewell, Brenda
item D'Antonio, Carla -
item Funk, Jennifer -
item James, Jeremy
item Molinari, Nicole -
item Parker, Ingrid -
item Richards, Christina -

Submitted to: Annals Of Botany
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: March 26, 2012
Publication Date: May 14, 2012
Citation: Drenovsky, R.E., Grewell, B.J., D'Antonio, C.M., Funk, J.L., James, J.J., Molinari, N., Parker, I.M., Richards, C.L. 2012. A functional trait perspective on plant invasion. Annals Of Botany. 110:141-153.

Interpretive Summary: Global environmental change affects exotic plant invasions, which profoundly impact native plant populations, communities and ecosystems. The research presented in this invited paper includes a review and analysis of the functional traits of plants that promote plant invader abundance (invasiveness) and their impacts. To understand how the abundance and impacts of invasive plants will respond to rapid environmental changes, it is essential to link trait-based responses of invaders to changes in community and ecosystem properties. We provide a comprehensive, plant-trait-based framework that considers dynamic environmental controls. We suggest a strategy to assess proportionate effects of invasive plants, and key factors to assess how these per capita effects link to negative impacts on plant communities and ecosystems. This integrated framework can be applied to improve invasive plant management and ecological restoration efforts during a time of global climate change. This peer-reviewed manuscript, invited for publication by the high impact, international plant science journal Annals of Botany, will be widely read as a freely available paper selected by Oxford Journals for online, open-access.

Technical Abstract: Global environmental change affects exotic plant invasions, which profoundly impact native plant populations, communities and ecosystems. In this context, we review plant functional traits, including those that drive invader abundance (invasiveness), and impacts, as well as the integration of these traits across multiple ecological scales and as a basis for restoration and management. We review the concept and terminology surrounding functional traits and how functional traits influence processes at the individual-level. We explore how phenotypic plasticity may lead to rapid evolution of novel traits facilitating invasiveness in changing environments and “scale up” to evaluate the relative importance of demographic traits and their links to invasion rates. We then suggest a functional trait framework for assessing per capita effects and ultimately impacts of invasive plants on plant communities and ecosystems. Lastly, we focus on the role of functional trait-based approaches in invasive species management and restoration in the context of rapid, global environmental change. To understand how the abundance and impacts of invasive plants will respond to rapid environmental changes, it is essential to link trait-based responses of invaders to changes in community and ecosystem properties. To do so requires a comprehensive effort that considers dynamic environmental controls, and a targeted approach to understand key functional traits driving both invader abundance and impacts. If we are to predict future invasions, manage those at hand, and use restoration technology to mitigate invasive species impacts, future research must focus on functional traits that promote invasiveness and invader impacts under changing conditions, and integrate major factors driving invasions from individual to ecosystem levels.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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