Are invasives bigger? A global study of seed size variation in two invasive shrubs

Y.M. Buckley, P. Downey, S.V. Fowler, R. Hill, J. Memmot, H. Norambuena, M. Pitcairn, R. Shaw, A.W. Sheppard, C. Winks, R. Wittenberg, M. Rees

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    92 Citations (Scopus)


    We explored the spatial structure of seed size variation and tested whether seed size differed between native and exotic populations in two invasive species. Seed of Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom) is significantly heavier in its exotic range, whereas seed of Ulex europaeus (European gorse) is no different between ranges. This result suggests that seed size in C. scoparius is either adaptively or phenotypically responsive to conditions in its exotic range or that plants with large seeds were preferentially introduced. We found that modern ornamental broom seed was no bigger than seed from natural or naturalized populations, suggesting that large seed size in the exotic range is not due to preferential introduction of ornamental varieties with large seeds. Most previous studies of trait differences between native and exotic ranges in invasive species have not taken variation throughout the ranges into account. This is the most comprehensive survey of seed size variation in any species, and the first time that variation in a trait of an invasive species has been studied from individual plant level up to global ranges. Demographic rates can be affected by seed attributes making this study an important first step in understanding how population processes may differ between native and exotic ranges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1434-1440
    Number of pages7
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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