Invasive plants adapt to new environments, study finds | 7/12/2018 | Staff
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Invasive plants have the ability to adapt to new environments – and even behave like a native species, according to University of Stirling research.

A study has found that the behaviour of invasive plants changes over time – meaning plants of the same species act differently if they arrive in their new environment at separate times.

Scientists - Characteristics - Monkeyflowers - Mimulus - Guttatus

Scientists studied the characteristics of monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus), which first arrived in the UK from North America 200 years ago. They compared the behaviour of monkeyflowers long-established in Scotland with those introduced recently for the purposes of the experiment.

Significantly, they found that the long-established plants were bigger and produced more flowers and more clones than those recently introduced. In comparison, the study showed that the genes of plants recently introduced are not well-adapted to deal with the UK environment.

Dr - Mario - Vallejo-Marin - Associate - Professor

Dr. Mario Vallejo-Marin, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the work alongside Ph.D. student Pauline Pantoja.

"Our study shows that invasive plants – in this case, the monkeyflower – become increasingly adapted to new environments thanks to natural selection," he explained.

Monkeyflowers - Years - North - America - Today

"If we compare monkeyflowers that have been here for the last 200 years with those from North America today, they are completely different plants. It appears that, over time, the plants seem to become natives of their new home.

"In other words, these results suggest that invasive populations of plants are better suited to live in their new home than new arrivals from the native range."

Team - Types

The team created two types of...
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