Not all weeds are created equal: A database approach uncovers differences in the sexual system of native and introduced weeds

Megan L. Van Etten, Jeffrey K. Conner, Shu Mei Chang, Regina S. Baucom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Weedy species provide excellent opportunities to examine the process of successful colonization of novel environments. Despite the influence of the sexual system on a variety of processes from reproduction to genetic structure, how the sexual system of species influences weediness has received only limited consideration. We examined the hypothesis that weedy plants have an increased likelihood of being self-compatible compared with nonweedy plants; this hypothesis is derived from Baker's law, which states that species that can reproduce uniparentally are more likely to successfully establish in a new habitat where mates are lacking. We combined a database of the weed (weedy/nonweedy) and introduction status (introduced/native) of plant species found in the USA with a database of plant sexual systems and determined whether native and introduced weeds varied in their sexual systems compared with native and introduced nonweeds. We found that introduced weeds are overrepresented by species with both male and female functions present within a single flower (hermaphrodites) whereas weeds native to the USA are overrepresented by species with male and female flowers present on a single plant (monoecious species). Overall, our results show that Baker's law is supported at the level of the sexual system, thus providing further evidence that uniparental reproduction is an important component of being either a native or introduced weed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2636-2642
Number of pages7
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume7
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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