Plasticity of Sapium sebiferum seedling growth to light and water resources: Inter- and intraspecific comparisons Academic Article uri icon


  • Two main hypotheses have been posed to explain the role of phenotypic plasticity in the invasive success of exotic plants: (1) invasive species may be more plastic than resident species in the introduced range, and (2) invasive populations of an exotic species may be more plastic relative to native populations due to evolutionary changes after introduction. To test the first hypothesis, we conducted a greenhouse pot experiment in which seedlings of invasive Sapium sebiferum competed against native Schizachyrium scoparium grasses under different light and water conditions. To test the second hypothesis, we performed an additional greenhouse pot experiment in which seedlings from native and invasive populations of S. sebiferum were grown under environmental treatments analogous to those in the first greenhouse experiment. Compared to native S. scoparium grasses, or to S. sebiferum seedlings from native populations, growth rates of S. sebiferum seedlings from invasive populations were generally higher. When they were competing with S. scoparium grasses, the greater response of S. sebiferum to light and water conditions reflected different patterns: S. sebiferum seedlings were better able to respond with increased growth in unflooded soils, whereas S. sebiferum had more robust growth in the shaded conditions. No difference in responses to change in water conditions, but a significant difference in responses to variation in light conditions was found between two population types of S. sebiferum. The results of this study suggest that relative to S. scoparium, the greater plasticity of S. sebiferum to variation in light conditions is evolved in the introduced range, while that to variation in water conditions reflects an innate property. 2007 Gesellschaft fr kologie.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

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

citation count

  • 41

complete list of authors

  • Zou, Jianwen||Rogers, William E||Siemann, Evan

publication date

  • January 2009