Germination performance of alien and native species could shape community assembly of temperate grasslands under different temperature scenarios
Rising temperatures due to climate change are expected to interplay with biological invasions, and may enhance the spread and growth of some alien species upon arrival in new areas. To successfully invade, a plant species needs to overcome multiple biological barriers. Among the crucial life stages, seed germination greatly contributes to the final species assembly of a plant community. Several studies have suggested that alien plant success is related to their high seed germination and longevity in the soil. Hence, our aim is to test if the germination potential of alien seeds present in the seed bank will be further enhanced by future warming in temperate dry grasslands, an ecosystem that is among those most prone to biological invasions. We designed a laboratory germination experiment at two temperatures (20 and 28 °C), to simulate an early or late heat wave in the growing season, using seeds from nine common grassland Asteraceae species, including native, archaeophyte and neophyte species. The test was performed on both single and mixed pools of these categories of species, using a full-factorial orthogonal design. The warmer germination temperature promoted neophyte success by increasing germination probability and germination speed, while negatively impacting these parameters in seeds of native species. The co-occurrence of native and archaeophyte seeds at the lower temperature limited the invasiveness of neophytes. These results provide important information on future management actions aimed at containing alien plant invasions, by improving our knowledge on the possible seed-bank response and interaction mechanisms of common species occurring in disturbed natural areas or restored sites.