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Halle/Saale. In order to prevail against native plants, non-native plant species develop special strategies. These differ in part considerably from the propagation strategies of endemic plant species. Dr. Ingolf Khn and Dr. Sonja Knapp of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) reached this conclusion in a study published in the current issue of the scientific journal Ecology Letters. "These results are an argument in support of the view that the need to differentiate between native and non-native species in ecological systems remains", says Dr. Ingolf Khn.
Experts are currently debating whether this differentiation might be untenable, as it is only a question of the extent to which a plant species regardless of its origin is able to adapt to man-made conditions (Davis et al. (2011), Nature; Thompson et al. (2011) Trends in Ecology & Evolution). In the professional journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution (van Kleunen et al. (2011), Hulme et al. (2011)) a number of research groups counter with the argument that differentiating between these two groups contributes essentially to the understanding of modern ecosystems, as endemic and non-native species differ in many respects.
In their current study the UFZ researchers Dr. Ingolf Khn and Dr. Sonja Knapp investigated this thesis and examined the question, whether the factors influencing the frequency of occurrence of non-native plant species are different from those for native species. Their investigations made use of the BiolFlor biological-ecologic data base for the characteristic features of flora in Germany, with more than 3,600 native and also established introduced species of ferns and flowering plants. They compared such features as life span, pollinating strategy and the occupation of different habitats
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Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres