The effect of Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum) ecotype on soil-plant system carbon and nitrogen processes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The EICA hypothesis predicts that shifts in allocation of invasive plants give rise to higher growth rates and lower herbivore defense levels in their introduced range than conspecifics in their native range. These changes in traits of invasive plants may also affect ecosystem processes. We conducted an outdoor pot experiment with Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum, Euphorbiaceae) seedlings from its native (Jiangsu, China, native ecotype) and introduced ranges (Texas, USA, invasive ecotype) to compare their relative performances in its native range and to examine ecotype effects on soil processes with and without fertilization. Consistent with predictions, plant (shoot and root) mass was significantly greater and leaf defoliation tended to be higher, while the root:shoot ratio was lower for the invasive ecotype relative to the native ecotype. Seasonal amounts of soil-plant system CO(2) and N(2)O emissions were higher for the invasive ecotype than for the native ecotype. Soil respiration rates and N(2)O emission increases from fertilization were also greater for the invasive ecotype than for the native ecotype, while shoot-specific respiration rates (g CO(2)-C g(-1) C day(-1)) did not differ between ecotypes. Further, soil inorganic N (ammonium and nitrate) was higher, but soil total N was lower for soils with the invasive ecotype than soils with the native ecotype. Compared with native ecotypes, therefore, invasive ecotypes may have developed a competition advantage in accelerating soil processes and promoting more nitrogen uptake through soil-plant direct interaction. The results of this study suggest that soil and ecosystem processes accelerated by variation in traits of invasive plants may have implications for their invasiveness.

published proceedings

  • Oecologia

author list (cited authors)

  • Zou, J., Rogers, W. E., DeWalt, S. J., & Siemann, E.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Zou, Jianwen||Rogers, William E||DeWalt, Saara J||Siemann, Evan

publication date

  • November 2006