The ability of invasive plant species to rapidly overtake native flora has become a growing problem in the Northeast US and elsewhere. A variety of mechanisms contribute to this ability, such as different strategies of resource allocation to fruit and flowers in native compared to invasive species. Life history theory suggests that fruit and flower size should be inversely related, since the plant has a finite number of resources. We hypothesize that there is a ratio of fruit to flower size that allow invasive species to quickly outcompete native species—a larger flower would allow for better pollination, but a larger fruit would allow for better dispersal. To test this hypothesis, we measured both fruit length and width, as well as flower area of multiple native and invasive species found in the Roemer Arboretum on campus. Preliminary results show that fruit size is similar across both native and invasive species. However, invasive species have much larger flowers. These findings suggest that invasive species have an advantage when it comes to reproduction. Additionally, these results may also indicate that fruit and flower size are not completely inversely related—perhaps the plant allocates resources to other areas, such as root production.
Meier, Rheanna and Yang, Suann, "Comparing Resource Allocation of Fruiting Native and Invasive Species" (2019). Papers, Posters, and Recordings. 12.