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Am Nat. 2002 Apr;159(4):396-419. doi: 10.1086/338995.

Toward a causal explanation of plant invasiveness: seedling growth and life-history strategies of 29 pine (Pinus) species.

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Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


We studied 29 pine (Pinus) species to test the hypothesis that invasive species in disturbed habitats have distinct attributes. Seedling relative growth rate (RGR) and measures of invasiveness were positively associated across species as well as within phylogenetically independent contrasts. High RGR, small seed masses, and short generation times characterize pine species that are successful invaders in disturbed habitats. Discriminant analysis and logistic regression revealed that RGR was the most significant factor among these life-history traits separating invasive and noninvasive species. We also explored the causes of differences in RGR among invasive and noninvasive species. While net assimilation rate, leaf mass ratio, and specific leaf area (SLA) were all found to be contributing positively to RGR, SLA was found to be the main component responsible for differences in RGR between invasive and noninvasive pines. We investigated differences in SLA further by studying leaf anatomy, leaf density, and leaf thickness. We also evaluated relative leaf production rate as an important aspect of SLA. We proposed a hypothetical causal network of all relevant variables.


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