Increased resource availability can promote invasion by exotic plants, raising concerns over the potential effects of global increases in the deposition of nitrogen (N). It is poorly understood why increased N favors exotics over natives. Fast growth may be a general trait of good invaders and these species may have exceptional abilities to increase growth rates in response to N deposition. Additionally, invaders commonly displace locals, and thus may have inherently greater competitive abilities. The mean growth response of Centaurea stoebe to two N levels was significantly greater than that of North American (NA) species. Growth responses to N did not vary among C. stoebe populations or NA species. Without supplemental N, NA species were better competitors than C. stoebe, and C. stoebe populations varied in competitive effects. The competitive effects of C. stoebe populations increased with N whereas the competitive effects of NA species decreased, eliminating the overall competitive advantage demonstrated by NA species in soil without N added. These results suggest that simulated N deposition may enhance C. stoebe invasion through increasing its growth and relative competitive advantage, and also indicate the possibility of local adaptation in competitive effects across the introduced range of an invader.
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