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Study Helps Predict Which Plants Become Invasive
Research From the University of Vermont

Study Helps Predict Which Plants Become Invasive

Of the six zones in central Europe that the team studied, one key finding they concluded was that invasive species were taller, on average, than the native species, which allowed the invasive plants to receive more sunlight and out-compete the existing vegetation.
Photo ?(C) Kenneth Allen (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Jane Molofsky is a professor of plant biology at the University of Vermont. In the beginning of November 2018, she worked along side an international team of researchers that published a paper in Nature Communications that took a closer look at why certain plants become invasive.

What they found was that certain plants species that are able to occupy a "novel niche" in an environment, are more likely to become invasive. What is more, the research team claims that the primary determinant of successful propagation of invasive species is promulgated through a process known as "environmental filtering." Environmental filtering means that the invasive species has to be similar, in someway, to the native species growing in that same habitat. This hypothesis is supported by the findings of the study, as the team found that invasive species shared similar traits, such as height, leaf characteristics, or average seed weight, with the surrounding native environment.

To conduct their research, the scientists examined 1,855 native and non-native plants in six different habitats of central Europe. In each environment, they compared native plant characteristics to non-natives and found that the non-native plants were similar to native ones, yet slightly different in some way, which allowed them to flourish.

You can read the entire, highly methodical, study on nature.com by clicking HERE.



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December 13, 2018, 4:02 am PST

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