Adaptive constraints at the range edge of a widespread and expanding invasive plant


Identifying the factors that facilitate and limit invasive species’ range expansion has both practical and theoretical importance, especially at the range edges. Here, we used reciprocal common garden experiments spanning the North/South and East/West range that include the North American core, intermediate and range edges of the globally invasive plant, Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) to investigate the interplay of climate, biotic interactions (i.e. competition) and patterns of adaptation. Our results suggest that the rapid range expansion of Johnsongrass into diverse environments across wide geographies occurred largely without local adaptation, but that further range expansion may be restricted by a fitness trade-off that limits population growth at the range edge. Interestingly, plant competition strongly dampened Johnsongrass growth but did not change the rank order performance of populations within a garden, though this varied among gardens (climates). Our findings highlight the importance of including the range edge when studying the range dynamics of invasive species, especially as we try to understand how invasive species will respond to accelerating global changes.



Biotic interactions, fitness trade-off, flowering time, invasive species, range edge, range limits, Sorghum halepense


Fletcher, Rebecca A., Daniel Z. Atwater, David C. Haak, Muthukumar V. Bagavathiannan, Antonio DiTommaso, Erik Lehnhoff, Andrew H. Paterson et al. "Adaptive constraints at the range edge of a widespread and expanding invasive plant." AoB Plants 15, no. 6 (2023): plad070.
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