Response to Available Nutrition Helps Overcome Rarity

Lab Report

By: Ann Northrup

Ann Northrup spent her undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in microbiology….

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One of the traits that determines whether alien plant species will be common or rare in the environment is how well they respond to available nutrition in the soil. To determine if this applies to native species as well as alien, a growth study was done in Switzerland using common and rare as well as alien and native herbaceous species from six plant families and differing habitats, to examine the results of nutrient addition and competition. Common native plants responded positively to nutrition addition, significantly more so than rare native plants. There appeared to be no fundamental difference between native and alien species in that response. Response to nutrient availability, therefore, is one trait that distinguishes common from rare native species.

Ecology Letters, Volume 15: 8, p 873–880