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It takes two to tango: variable architectural strategies boost invasive success of Lantana camara L. (sensu lato) in contrasting light environments

Goyal, Neha, Sharma, Gyan Prakash
Biological invasions 2019 v.21 no.1 pp. 163-174
DNA, Lantana camara, ecological invasion, habitats, light intensity, ploidy, reproductive performance
Lantana camara L. (sensu lato) primarily invades open, well-lit environments. However, the species is expanding its range in shaded habitats. To decipher the strategies behind the species’ invasive success in contrasting light environments, key performance-related architectural and functional traits of sun and shade-dwelling individuals were estimated. L. camara exhibited significant differences in performance-related traits at whole plant, branch, and leaf-level in response to light. DNA ploidy level of each sampled individual was also estimated to determine whether observed trait differences in response to light can be related to adaptive trait modulations or to the ploidal differences. L. camara individuals dwelling in sun and shade were of similar ploidy level. Consequently, the performance of L. camara in variable light is a function of structural and functional trait differences, but not an attribute of ploidy. Sun-dwelling L. camara exhibited alterations in architecture, affecting the reproductive output, which exert local/regional propagule pressure. However, shade-dwelling individuals exhibited architectural alterations affecting plant expanse which attributes local ingress, creating a local masking effect. Both the strategies boost performance and invasive success of L. camara in contrasting light environments. The present study gives an insight that physical removal of the plant in sun and shade would imply differential benefits in the local environment.