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What makes a weed a weed? A large- scale evaluation of arable weeds through a functional lens

Bourgeois, Bérenger; Munoz, Francois; Fried, Guillaume; Mahaut, Lucie; Armengot, Laura; Denelle, Pierre; Storkey, Jonathan; Gaba, Sabrina and Violle, Cyrille (2019) What makes a weed a weed? A large- scale evaluation of arable weeds through a functional lens. American Journal of Botany, 106 (1), pp. 90-100.

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Document available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30633823


Despite long-term research efforts, a comprehensive perspective on the ecological and functional properties determining plant weediness is still lacking. We investigated here key functional attributes of arable weeds compared to non-weed plants, at large spatial scale.
We used an intensive survey of plant communities in cultivated and non-cultivated habitats to define a pool of plants occurring in arable fields (weeds) and one of plants occurring only in open non-arable habitats (non-weeds) in France. We compared the two pools based on nine functional traits and three functional spaces (LHS, reproductive and resource requirement hypervolumes). Within the weed pool, we quantified the trait variation of weeds along a continuum of specialization to arable fields.
Weeds were mostly therophytes and had higher specific leaf area, earlier and longer flowering, and higher affinity for nutrient-rich, sunny and dry environments compared to non-weeds, although functional spaces of weeds and non-weeds largely overlapped. When fidelity to arable fields increased, the spectrum of weed ecological strategies decreased as did the overlap with non-weeds, especially for the resource requirement hypervolume.
Arable weeds constitute a delimited pool defined by a trait syndrome providing tolerance to the ecological filters of arable fields (notably, regular soil disturbances and fertilization). The identification of such a syndrome is of great interest to predict the weedy potential of newly established alien plants. An important reservoir of plants may also become weeds after changes in agricultural practices, considering the large overlap between weeds and non-weeds.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:agroecosystems, ecological strategies, environmental filtering, farmland biodiversity, hypervolume, intensive agricultural practices, plant functional niches, trait-based approach, weed fidelity index, weediness syndrome
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Crop husbandry > Weed management
Research affiliation: France > AgroSup Dijon
France > CNRS
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International
France > Other organizations
DOI:doi: 10.1002/ajb2.1213
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:36356
Deposited On:19 Aug 2019 12:41
Last Modified:19 Aug 2019 12:41
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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