PHOTOSYNTHETIC CHARACTERIZATION OF INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA
Authors:Erich Eberts, Lauren Pangburn
Mentor:Victor Carmona, Assistant Professor of Biology, Loyola Marymount University
Invasive species are non-native organisms that spread unchecked in space and have negative interactions with diverse elements of native habitats. The success of these invasives may or may not be related to specific traits, such as their photosynthetic pathway. We hypothesize that the pattern of occurrence of a given photosynthetic pathway may correspond with historical increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, therein favoring invasive plant species with a C3 photosynthetic strategy. We acquired the specimen information for invasive species registered in the Consortium for California Herbaria of the University of California Berkeley to track historical patterns of arrival and to evaluate the community dynamics of 1,000 invasive species in Los Angeles County (total specimen count=14,000). We show that both diversity and richness of invasive plant species has increased over a period of 180 years. We utilized the primary literature to identify the photosynthetic pathway for all of the invasive plant species in our database, and are currently evaluating the relative changes in the richness of C3, C4, and CAM plants over 15 decades.