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Andonian K, Hierro J. 2011. Species interactions contribute to the success of a global plant invader. Biological Invasions:1-9.
Year Published: 2011

Biological invasions are ubiquitous ecological phenomena that often impact native ecosystems. Some introduced species have evolved traits that enhance their ability to compete and dominate in recipient communities. However, it is still unknown if introduced species can evolve traits that may enhance their species interactions to fuel invasion success. We tested whether Centaurea solstitialis (yellow starthistle) from introduced populations have greater performance than native counterparts, and whether they generate more beneficial plant-soil interactions. We used common garden and plant-soil feedback experiments with soils and seeds from native Eurasian and introduced Californian populations. We found that performance of Centaurea did not differ among source genotypes , implying that the success of this invasive species is not due to evolutionary changes. However, Centaurea grew significantly larger in soils from introduced regions than from native regions, indicating a reduction in natural enemy pressure from native populations. We conclude that species interactions, not evolution, may contribute to Centaurea's invasion success in introduced populations.