Date of Award

Spring 2013

First Advisor

Rebecca Drenovsky


Invasive species pose a major threat to ecosystems worldwide. Therefore, understanding the traits that promote invasiveness is a key research focus for invasion biologists. The objective of this project was to assess light responses of invasive and non-invasive roses by using gas exchange measurements and to relate these responses to leaf nitrogen concentration. I compared the light response curves and leaf nitrogen concentrations of non-invasive and invasive roses, hypothesizing that increased photosynthetic rates and green leaf nitrogen concentrations are associated with invasiveness in these species. Using a greenhouse experiment, the plants were placed in a randomized block design and grown under controlled conditions. Light response curves were made with a LICOR 6400 infrared gas analyzer. Following gas exchange measurements, leaf nitrogen concentration was measured via micro-Dumas combustion on a CN analyzer. Contrary to expectations, there were no significant differences in photosynthetic light responses among invasive and non-invasive roses. However, the data suggest that invasive roses may use nitrogen more efficiently than non-invasive species. The goal of this study was to distinguish traits that allow invasive roses to outcompete non-invasive roses. Understanding the traits that facilitate the spread of invasive species can lead to interventions that may mitigate their negative effects on native environments.


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