Genetically Based Trait Differentiation but Lack of Trade-offs between Stress Tolerance and Performance in Introduced Canada Thistle

Kathryn A. Hodgins, Alessia Guggisberg, Kristin Nurkowski, Loren H. Rieseberg

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Trade-offs between performance and tolerance of abiotic and biotic stress have been proposed to explain both the success of invasive species and frequently observed size differences between native and introduced populations. Canada thistle seeds collected from across the introduced North American and the native European range were grown in benign and stressful conditions (nutrient stress, shading, simulated herbivory, drought, and mowing), to evaluate whether native and introduced individuals differ in performance or stress tolerance. An additional experiment assessed the strength of maternal effects by comparing plants derived from field-collected seeds with those derived from clones grown in the glasshouse. Introduced populations tended to be larger in size, but no trade-off of stress tolerance with performance was detected; introduced populations had either superior performance or equivalent trait values and survivorship in the treatment common gardens. We also detected evidence of parallel latitudinal clines of some traits in both the native and introduced ranges and associations with climate variables in some treatments, consistent with recent climate adaptation within the introduced range. Our results are consistent with rapid adaptation of introduced populations, but, contrary to predictions, the evolution of invasive traits did not come at the cost of reduced stress tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100116
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Communications
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2020


  • adaptation
  • biological invasion
  • Canada thistle
  • EICA
  • plasticity
  • trait evolution

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