[en] The dynamics of plant population differentiation may be integral in predicting aspects of introduced species invasion. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that European populations of Senecio inaequidens (Asteraceae), an invasive species with South African origins, differentiated during migration from two independent introduction sites into divergent altitudinal and climatic zones. We carried out 2 years of common garden experiments with eight populations sampled from Belgian and ten populations from French altitudinal transects. The Belgian transect followed a temperature and precipitation gradient. A temperature and summer drought gradient characterized the French transect. We evaluated differentiation and clinal variation in plants germinated from field-collected seed using the following traits: days to germination, days to flowering, height at maturity, final plant height and aboveground biomass. Results showed that S. inaequidens populations differentiated in growth traits during invasion. During the 1st year of sampling, the results indicated clinal variation for growth traits along both the Belgium and French altitudinal transects. Data from the 2nd year of study demonstrated that with increasing altitude, a reduction in three growth traits, including plant height at maturity, final plant height and aboveground biomass, was detected along the French transect, but no longer along the Belgian one. Phenological traits did not exhibit a clear clinal variation along altitudinal transects. The possible evolutionary causes for the observed differentiation are discussed.
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS