|Title||High propagule production and reproductive fitness homeostasis contribute to the invasiveness of Lespedeza cuneata (Fabaceae)|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2009|
|Authors||Woods, TM, Hartnett, DC, Ferguson, CJ|
|Keywords||Cleistogamy, Fitness homeostasis, Invasive, Lespedeza, Pollination, Propagule production, Regeneration niche, tallgrass prairie|
Comparative studies of congeneric native and exotic species have proved fruitful in understanding plant traits that foster invasion. Using this approach, we investigate the complex reproductive system of the invasive Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.-Cours.) G. Don in relation to three native congeners in the variable environment of the North American tallgrass prairie. Lespedeza species produce both chasmogamous (CH) and cleistogamous (CL) flowers, and propagate clonally via vegetative buds. Utilizing multiple natural populations over 2 years, we investigated reproductive modes of individuals from bagged and unbagged treatments of each species. We found that L. cuneata produced a mean of five times as many seeds and a significantly greater number of vegetative buds than any native studied, and over twenty times as many CH flowers. Insect visitation significantly affected seed set in CH flowers, though some autonomous CH selfing occurred in all species. The invasive relied relatively less on selfing than the natives and exhibited less variation in reproductive output from both modes of reproduction. We conclude that the diverse reproductive biology and wide regeneration niche of L. cuneata in relation to its native congeners confer a fitness homeostasis that facilitates the successful spread of this invasive under a wide range of conditions.