The greater abundance of some exotic plants in their nonnative ranges might be explained in part by biogeographic differences in the strength of competition, but these competitive effects have not been experimentally examined in the field. We compared the effects of neighbors on the growth and reproduction of spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) in Europe, where it is native, and in Montana, where it is invasive. There were strong negative competitive effects of neighboring vegetation on C. stoebe growth and reproduction in Europe. In contrast, identical experiments in Montana resulted in insignificant impacts on C. stoebe. Although the mechanisms that produce this dramatic biogeographic difference in competitive outcome remain unknown, our results indicate that differences in net competitive interactions between ranges may contribute to the striking dominance of C. stoebe in parts of North America.
Copyright 2011 by the Ecological Society of America. Ragan M. Callaway, Lauren P. Waller, Alecu Diaconu, Robert Pal, Alexandra R. Collins, Heinz Mueller-Schaerer, and John L. Maron 2011. Escape from competition: Neighbors reduce Centaurea stoebe performance at home but not away. Ecology 92:2208–2213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-0518.1.