The Invasive Plant Verbena brasiliensis Differentially Supresses a Group of Co-Occurring Native Species 



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Species that are introduced to new geographic locations sometimes become invasive, spreading rapidly, reducing local plant diversity and interfering with ecosystem services. Verbena brasiliensis is a perennial forb native to South America that was introduced on the Gulf Coast more than a century ago and since has spread invasively throughout the Southeast. My research evaluates the relative impact of V. brasiliensis on the growth of co-occurring native plants. I expected the invasive plant to suppress the growth of the native species to varying degrees. The relative impact of V. brasiliensis on the growth of competingnative species varied widely. The variation may stem from differences in early growth rates, in the extent to which they compete with V. brasiliensis for nutrients or in their response to changes the invasive plant may make to the biotic and abiotic soil environment. The results can provide guidance to conservation professionals in predicting how V. brasiliensis will affect the structure of native plant communities and which species may be more effective competitors in restoration projects where V. brasiliensis is common. Species such as L. alatum and S. scoparium could be expected to become less common in communities invaded by V. brasiliensis, while others, such as Coreopsis tinctoria or Chamaecrista fasciculata may tend to persist.



Biology, Invasive species