Field comparison of ecophysiological traits between an invader and a native species in a Mediterranean coastal dune.Plant Physiol Biochem 2020; 146:278-286PP
Photochemical efficiency, gas exchange, leaf water potential, pigment content and free proline content of Oenothera drummondii subsp. drummondii Hook (an invasive non-native species) and Achillea maritima (L.) Ehrend. & Y.P. Guo, (an ecologically similar native species) were explored to understand the success of invasive non-native species in Mediterranean coastal dunes of southwest Spain. We have conducted a field study during a complete annual cycle, comparing both species. Fifteen pairs of neighbouring plants of the two study species of similar size were selected and measured seasonally. The results show that in spring and summer, assimilation rates of O. drummondii were significantly higher than those of the native, A. maritime, even though the native species had higher photochemical efficiency. Additionally, the non-native species presented better water content regulation than the native one, surely related to better water use efficiency and maybe linked to greater root development. The differences in leaf dry matter content values for both species might indicate a different strategy of resource use; with A. maritima displaying a more conservative strategy and O. drummondii presenting a rapid resources acquisition and use strategy as predictors of rapid growth and soil fertility. We conclude that O. drummondii utilizes light, water and probably nutrients more efficiently than the native A. maritima and suffers lower stress in Mediterranean coastal dunes where water availability is reduced (44 mm from May to October in the study area) and light radiation levels are high.