Does polyembryony confer a competitive advantage to the invasive perennial vine Vincetoxicum rossicum (Apocynaceae)?
Blanchard, Megan L. | Barney, Jacob N. | Averill, Kristine M. | Mohler, Charles L. | DiTommaso, Antonio
Determining which traits may allow some introduced plant species to become invasive in their new environment continues to be a key question in invasion biology. Vincetoxicum rossicum is an invasive, perennial vine colonizing natural and seminatural habitats primarily in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. More than half its seeds exhibit polyembryony, a relatively uncommon condition in which a single seed produces multiple seedlings. For evaluating the potential consequences of polyembryony on invasiveness, V. rossicum plants derived from seeds of three embryonic classes--singlets, doublets, and triplets (one, two, and three seedlings per seed, respectively)--were paired in all combinations intraspecifically and with the co-occurring native herbs Solidago canadensis and Asclepias syriaca in a greenhouse study. Vincetoxicum rossicum biomass was 25-55% greater and follicle production 55-100% greater under intraspecific competition compared with interspecific competition. However, within a competitive environment, follicle production varied little. Regardless of competitive environment, V. rossicum originating from seeds with a greater number of embryos typically performed no better than plants arising from seed with fewer embryos (singlets = doublets = triplets)--except intraspecifically where doublets outperformed singlets, and with S. canadensis where triplets outperformed singlets. Our findings suggest that overall performance and fitness of V. rossicum is higher in monocultures than in mixed stands and that its ability to invade new habitats may not be attributable to the production of polyembryonic seeds.Show more [+] Less [-]