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Nitrogen deposition enhances

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Increased resource supply commonly facilitates invasion by exotic plants, raising concerns over atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition; fast‐growing annual invaders may have exceptional abilities to outperform native perennials in response to N pulses. However, it remains unclear whether this advantage is due to growth differences or to shifts in competitive outcomes, and whether annual invaders are favored by N deposition in their introduced range over native range. We conducted an experiment to compare the growth and competitive ability of Bromus tectorum and its native perennial grasses either at three different N regimes or between China and North America. The soil used in this experiment was from mountain grasslands as a neutral growth medium. The total biomass of three natives from China and North America did not increase along the N deposition gradient. Nitrogen addition enhanced the growth of North American B. tectorum instead of Chinese B. tectorum. Nitrogen addition increased the competitive ability of B. tectorum, but had no effect on that of natives. North American B. tectorum was bigger and had greater competitive ability and root weight ratio than Chinese B. tectorum. In contrast, North American natives were less competitive than Chinese natives. There was a significantly positive correlation between the growth of B. tectorum grown alone and its competitive ability. These findings suggest that N deposition may enhance the B. tectorum invasion through disproportionally increasing the growth and maintaining inherent competitive advantages of North American B. tectorum, further increasing threats to introduced ranges. There were differences in the growth and competitive ability of B. tectorum and natives between China and North America, which explains why B. tectorum is a minor component at home and becomes a successful invader abroad.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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