Influence of seed size on performance of non-native annual plant species in a novel community at two planting densities

Janina Radny, Wim H. van der Putten, Katja Tielbörger, Katrin M. Meyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Climate warming enables plant species to migrate to higher latitudes and altitudes. Within Europe, the Mediterranean harbours many species that might expand their ranges towards Western Europe. Small seed size may facilitate dispersal, however, it may impair establishment of the range-expanding plant species in the novel vegetation. In a greenhouse experiment, we examined effects of average seed size of Mediterranean plant species on their establishment in a mixed community of Western European plant species. Applying two levels of densities of the natives and a herbivory treatment, we tested how seed size is linked to response in plant growth and fitness in novel vegetation. While all non-native plant species showed a negative response to increased planting density, species with small seeds showed a less negative response. This effect persisted under herbivory. Our data suggest that small-seeded non-native plant species may tolerate competitive pressure from novel plant communities better than large-seeded species, so that small seed size may confer a higher probability of establishment of non-native species in novel communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
JournalActa Oecologica
Early online date18 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018



  • Biotic interactions
  • Competition
  • Exotic species
  • Greenhouse
  • Plant size
  • Range expansion

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