Low Resource Competition, Availability of Nutrients and Water Level Fluctuations Facilitate Invasions of Australian Swamp Stonecrop (Crassula helmsii) (2024)

Van Kleef, H., van der Loop J.M.M. & van Veenhuisen L., 2024

Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii (Kirk) Cockayne) is invasive in Western Europe. Its small size and high potential for regeneration make it difficult to eliminate. Short-term experiments have demonstrated that the growth of C. helmsii depends on nutrient availability and resource competition. In order to confirm those mechanisms in the field, we studied the abundance of C. helmsii in Northern Europe over a longer period of time in relation to nutrient availability and co-occurring plant communities and plant species. When growing in submerged conditions, the dominance of C. helmsii depended on a high availability of CO2. A series of exceptionally dry summers allowed C. helmsii to increase in cover due to weakened biotic resistance and a loss of carbon limitation. Only Littorella uniflora (L.) Asch. and Juncus effusus L. were able to remain dominant and continue to provide biotic resistance. Based on our findings, minimizing nutrient (C and N) availability and optimizing hydrology provides native species with stable growth conditions. This optimizes resource competition and may prevent the proliferation of C. helmsii.