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Growth form and distribution of introduced plants in their native and non-native ranges in Eastern Asia and North America

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There is a growing interest in understanding the influence of plant traits on their ability to spread in non-native regions. Many studies addressing this issue have been based on relatively small areas or restricted taxonomic groups. Here, we analyse a large data base involving 1567 plant species introduced between Eastern Asia and North America or from elsewhere to both regions. We related the extent of species distributions in each region to growth form and the distinction between upland and wetland habitats. We identified significant relationships between geographical distribution and plant traits in both native and exotic ranges as well as regional differences in the relationships. Range size was larger for herbaceous graminoids and forbs, especially annuals compared to perennials, than for woody species, and range size also was larger for plants of wetland compared to upland habitats. Distributions were more extensive in North America than in Eastern Asia, although native plants from both regions had broader distributions than non-natives, with exotics from elsewhere intermediate. Growth form and environment explained more of the variance in distribution of plants in North America than in Eastern Asia. The influence of growth form and habitat on distribution suggests that these traits might be related to tolerance of ecological conditions. In addition, the smaller extents of species in non-native compared to native areas suggest roles for dispersal limitation and adaptation to region-specific ecological conditions in determining distribution.
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Keywords: Biological invasions; Eastern Asia; North America; invasibility; invasion resistance; native vs. exotic ranges; wetland vs. upland habitat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: USDA-Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC 28804, USA, 2: Research and Collections Center, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL 62703, USA

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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