Steve and Don Strong have been working with Yihui Zhang in China over the past few years. A paper based on this collaboration is now published in the Journal of Ecology. It describes phenotypic variation in exotic Spartina alterniflora in China. Spartina alterniflora is now widespread along the Chinese coast. Across this distribution, plants exhibit phenotypic variation in plant height, shoot density and sexual reproduction, but most of this variation disappears in a common garden, indicating that it is mostly due to plasticity rather than fixed genetic traits. In the native range, at least some latitudinal variation in Spartina traits has a fixed genetic basis. Some of the latitudinal patterns are similar to those found across latitude in the native range in the US, but others are different or have not been studied in the US. Thus, the latitudinal clines show some different patterns and have different underlying mechanisms in the native and exotic ranges.
Liu, W., Maung-Douglass, K., Strong, D.R., Pennings, S.C. and Zhang, Y. (2016). Geographical variation in vegetative growth and sexual reproduction of the invasive Spartina alterniflora in China. Journal of Ecology 104:173-181.
Photograph: Yihui and his students measure introduced Spartina alterniflora in China.