The evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA) hypothesis and the novel weapons hypothesis (NWH) are two non-mutually exclusive mechanisms for exotic plant invasions, but few studies have simultaneously tested these hypotheses. Here we aimed to integrate them in the context of Chromolaena odorata invasion. We conducted two common garden experiments in order to test the EICA hypothesis, and two laboratory experiments in order to test the NWH. In common conditions, C. odorata plants from the nonnative range were better competitors but not larger than plants from the native range, either with or without the experimental manipulation of consumers. Chromolaena odorata plants from the nonnative range were more poorly defended against aboveground herbivores but better defended against soil-borne enemies. Chromolaena odorata plants from the nonnative range produced more odoratin (Eupatorium) (a unique compound of C. odorata with both allelopathic and defensive activities) and elicited stronger allelopathic effects on species native to China, the nonnative range of the invader, than on natives of Mexico, the native range of the invader. Our results suggest that invasive plants may evolve increased competitive ability after being introduced by increasing the production of novel allelochemicals, potentially in response to naïve competitors and new enemy regimes. See also the Commentary by Lau and Schultheis.
- Aboveground and soil-borne enemies
- Chromolaena odorata
- Enemy suppression
- Evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA)
- Intraspecific competition
- Novel weapons hypothesis