Invasive Plants Versus Their New and Old Neighbors: A Mechanism for Exotic Invasion

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Science  20 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5491, pp. 521-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5491.521

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Invading exotic plants are thought to succeed primarily because they have escaped their natural enemies, not because of novel interactions with their new neighbors. However, we find thatCentaurea diffusa, a noxious weed in North America, has much stronger negative effects on grass species from North America than on closely related grass species from communities to whichCentaurea is native. Centaurea's advantage against North American species appears to be due to differences in the effects of its root exudates and how these root exudates affect competition for resources. Our results may help to explain why some exotic species so successfully invade natural plant communities.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: callaway{at}

  • Present address: The Nature Conservancy, 201 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.

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