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While invasive plant species primarily occur in disturbed, high-resource environments, many species have invaded ecosystems characterized by low nutrient, water, and light availability. Species adapted to low-resource systems often display traits associated with resource conservation, such as slow growth, high tissue longevity, and resource-use efficiency. This contrasts with our general understanding of invasive species physiology derived primarily from studies in high-resource environments. These studies suggest that invasive species succeed through high resource acquisition. This review examines physiological and morphological traits of native and invasive species in low-resource environments. Existing data support the idea that species invading low-resource environments possess traits associated with resource acquisition, resource conservation or both. Disturbance and climate change are affecting resource availability in many ecosystems, and understanding physiological differences between native and invasive species may suggest ways to restore invaded ecosystems.


This article was originally published in Conservation Physiology, volume 1, in 2013. DOI: 10.1093/conphys/cot026


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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