Dr. Jason Fridley

Breaking the rules: the biology of plant superinvaders

Dr. Jason Fridley
Clemson University

February 1, 2023

Hosted By Dr. Kim Komatsu


Many plant species considered invasive are just weeds–they depend on disturbances that free up resources that support fast growth, early reproduction, and high fecundity. However, a subset of ‘superinvaders’ combine weedy traits with a surprising degree of stress tolerance, promoting high fitness in competition with native species across a large array of environmental conditions. I will discuss the superinvader phenotype for woody species of temperate and tropical closed-canopy forests, where invaders appear to circumvent the normal rules of light partitioning and are able to establish and persist in low light yet grow and reproduce quickly after canopy disturbances. New theory based on whole-plant carbon budgets can explain the origin of this phenotype, but focuses on energetic costs of plants that are rarely measured in the field. One prediction of the theory is that some introduced plants become more shade tolerant in their invaded range, with important consequences for native biodiversity.