Feng, Yanhao


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Linking Darwin's naturalisation hypothesis and Elton's diversity-invasibility hypothesis in experimental grassland communities

2019-03, Feng, Yanhao, Fouqueray, Timothée Donatien, van Kleunen, Mark

1.Darwin's naturalisation hypothesis posing that phylogenetic distance of alien species to native residents predicts invasion success, and Elton's diversity‐invasibility hypothesis posing that diversity of native communities confers resistance to invasion, are both rooted in ideas of species coexistence. Because the two hypotheses are inherently linked, the mechanisms underlying them may interact in driving the invasion success. Even so, these links and interactions have not been explicitly disentangled in one experimental study before.
2.To disentangle the links between the two hypotheses, we used 36 native grassland herbs to create greenhouse mesocosms with 90 grassland communities of different diversities, and introduced each of five herbaceous alien species as seeds and seedlings. We used phylogeny and four functional traits (plant height, specific leaf area, leaf size, seed mass) to calculate different measures of phylogenetic and functional distance and diversity. Specifically, we tested how the alien‐native distance (phylogenetic or functional) and the native diversity (phylogenetic or functional) affected each other in their effects on germination, seedling survival, growth and reproduction of the aliens.
3.Overall, our results supported both hypotheses. Multivariate functional distance based on four traits jointly had stronger positive effects than phylogenetic distance and the univariate ones based on each trait separately. Moreover, the aliens were more successful if they were more competitive by being taller and having larger leaves with a lower SLA than the native residents. Univariate functional diversity based on each trait separately had stronger negative effects than phylogenetic and multivariate functional diversity. Most importantly, we found that the effects of alien‐native phylogenetic and multivariate functional distance became stronger as diversity increased. Our analyses with single traits also showed that the strength of the effects of both alien‐native hierarchical functional distances (indicative of competitive inequalities) and absolute functional distances (indicative of niche differences) increased at higher diversities, where competition is more severe.
4.SynthesisOur study explicitly demonstrates for the first time how the mechanisms underlying the two classical invasion hypotheses interact in driving invasion success in grassland communities. This may help to explain some of the puzzling results of studies testing either of the two hypotheses.


Does greater specific leaf area plasticity help plants to maintain a high performance when shaded?

2016, Liu, Yanjie, Dawson, Wayne, Prati, Daniel, Haeuser, Emily Sutton, Feng, Yanhao, van Kleunen, Mark

It is frequently assumed that phenotypic plasticity can be very advantageous for plants, because it may increase environmental tolerance (fitness homeostasis). This should, however, only hold for plastic responses that are adaptive, i.e. increase fitness. Numerous studies have shown shade-induced increases in specific leaf area (SLA), and there is wide consensus that this plastic response optimizes light capture and thus has to be adaptive. However, it has rarely been tested whether this is really the case.


Introduction history, climatic suitability, native range size, species traits and their interactions explain establishment of Chinese woody species in Europe

2016-11, Feng, Yanhao, Maurel, Noelie, Wang, Zhiheng, Ning, Lei, Yu, Fei-Hai, van Kleunen, Mark

A major challenge in ecology is to understand how multiple causal factors, which may interact, drive success of non-native plants in new ranges. In this study we addressed the role of introduction history, climatic suitability, native range size, species traits and their interactions in the establishment of Chinese woody species in Europe.

China (native range), Europe (new range).

We tested whether establishment of 449 Chinese woody species in Europe was associated with residence time (time since earliest planting), planting frequency, climatic suitability, native range size and species traits. We also considered possible nonlinear effects and interactions among these variables. For the 38 species that have established in Europe, we further tested whether these variables and interactions explained their establishment in multiple European countries.

Establishment of the 449 species in Europe was positively associated with residence time, planting frequency and climatic suitability. Except residence time, these factors were also positively associated with establishment of the 38 species in multiple countries. None of the traits tested had statistically significant main effects on establishment in Europe, but, for the established species, longer flowering period and having compound leaves were positively associated with establishment in multiple countries. The positive association between establishment in Europe and residence time was stronger for evergreen than for deciduous species. In addition, evergreens, unlike deciduous species, showed a positive association between establishment in Europe and fruiting duration. Moreover, establishment in multiple countries was positively associated with planting frequency for species with compound leaves but not for species with simple leaves, and the association between the establishment and fruiting duration changed from negative to moderately positive as climatic suitability increased.

Main conclusions:
Introduction history and climatic suitability explain most of the variation in establishment, and modulate the role of species traits, such as leaf retention, leaf type and fruiting duration.


Responses to shading of naturalized and non-naturalized exotic woody species

2014, Feng, Yanhao, van Kleunen, Mark

Background and Aims
Recent studies have suggested that responses to shading gradients may play an important role in establishment success of exotic plants, but hitherto few studies have tested this. Therefore, a common-garden experiment was conducted using multiple Asian woody plant species that were introduced to Europe >100 years ago in order to test whether naturalized and non-naturalized species differ in their responses to shading. Specifically, a test was carried out to determine whether naturalized exotic woody species maintained better growth under shaded conditions, and whether they expressed greater (morphological and physiological) adaptive plasticity in response to shading, relative to non-naturalized species.

Nineteen naturalized and 19 non-naturalized exotic woody species were grown under five light levels ranging from 100 to 7 % of ambient light. For all plants, growth performance (i.e. biomass), morphological and CO2 assimilation characteristics were measured. For the CO2 assimilation characteristics, CO2 assimilation rate was measured at 1200 μmol m–2 s–1 (i.e. saturated light intensity, A1200), 50 μmol m–2 s–1 (i.e. low light intensity, A50) and 0 μmol m–2 s–1 (A0, i.e. dark respiration).

Key Results
Overall, the naturalized and non-naturalized species did not differ greatly in biomass production and measured morphological and CO2 assimilation characteristics across the light gradient. However, it was found that naturalized species grew taller and reduced total leaf area more than non-naturalized species in response to shading. It was also found that naturalized species were more capable of maintaining a high CO2 assimilation rate at low light intensity (A50) when grown under shading.

The results indicate that there is no clear evidence that the naturalized species possess a superior response to shading over non-naturalized species, at least not at the early stage of their growth. However, the higher CO2 assimilation capacity of the naturalized species under low-light conditions might facilitate early growth and survival, and thereby ultimately favour their initial population establishment over the non-naturalized species.


Phylogenetic and functional mechanisms of direct and indirect interactions among alien and native plants

2016-07, Feng, Yanhao, van Kleunen, Mark