Some invasive plant species appear to strongly suppress neighbors in their nonnative ranges but much less so in their native range. We found that in the field in its native range in Mexico, the presence of Ageratina adenophora, an aggressive Neotropical invader, was correlated with higher plant species richness than found in surrounding plant communities where this species was absent, suggesting facilitation. However, in two nonnative ranges, China and India, A. adenophora canopies were correlated with much lower species richness than the surrounding communities, suggesting inhibition. Volatile organic compound (VOC) signals may contribute to this striking biogeographical difference and the invasive success of A. adenophora. In controlled experiments volatiles from A. adenophora litter caused higher mortality of species native to India and China, but not of species native to Mexico. The effects of A. adenophora VOCs on seedling germination and growth did not differ between species from the native range and species from the nonnative ranges of the invader. Litter from A. adenophora plants from nonnative populations also produced VOCs that differed quantitatively in the concentrations of some chemicals than litter from native populations, but there were no chemicals unique to one region. Biogeographic differences in the concentrations of some volatile compounds between ranges suggest that A. adenophora may be experiencing selection on biochemical composition in its nonnative ranges.
Copyright 2011 by the Ecological Society Of America. Inderjit, Heather Evans, Christoph Crocoll, Devika Bajpai, Rajwant Kaur, Yu-Long Feng, Carlos Silva, Jacinto Treviño Carreón, Alfonso Valiente-Banuet, Jonathan Gershenzon, and Ragan M. Callaway 2011. Volatile chemicals from leaf litter are associated with invasiveness of a Neotropical weed in Asia. Ecology 92:316–324. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/10-0400.1.