Invasive species and climate change: Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronquist as a tool for assessing the invasibility of natural plant communities along an aridity gradient

Or Leyl Har-Edom, Marcelo Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The predicted reduction in precipitation in the eastern Mediterranean due to climate change may expose the natural plant communities to invasive species. We assessed whether natural plant communities along an aridity gradient in Israel were resistant to invasion by considering differences in abiotic conditions and community characteristics in these regions. We considered Conyza canadensis as a model plant as it is a common invader in the region. We examined the mechanisms and functional traits of both the plant communities and C. canadensis that promote or discourage invasion. Study sites represented a rainfall gradient with four ecosystem types: mesic Mediterranean, Mediterranean, semiarid and arid. Our results showed that the mechanisms of community invasion resistance varied along the aridity gradient. At the arid and semiarid sites, water deficiency impaired the establishment of C. canadensis. At the mesic Mediterranean site, plant competition had a negative effect on C. canadensis performance, thus greatly reducing the likelihood of its establishment. We conclude that a decrease in regional precipitation due to climate change may not affect intrinsic resistance characteristics of natural plant communities to invasion in the area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1960
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2010

Keywords

  • Aridity
  • Climate change
  • Climatic gradient
  • Competition
  • Invasibility
  • Invasion
  • Mediterranean

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