Plant-soil feedback as a driver of plant invasions of mixed-grass prairie

Control of invasive plants does not always result in return of a native plant community.  The reasons could involve a depleted seed bank, changes in communities of mutualists either aboveground (e.g., pollinators or seed dispersers) or belowground (e.g., arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi), or changes in the identity or quantity of pathogens in the soil.  In a series of linked studies, we have examined soil occupancy effects of leafy spurge, smooth brome, and crested wheatgrass and compared them with those of native plants.  Our results suggest that invasive plants can change live components of soils in such a way as to reduce the vigor of native seedlings and improve establishment of invasive species.  We have also examined germinable seed banks in areas previously infested with leafy spurge and found species composition to be comparable to noninfested sites.
 

 

Principal Investigator(s):

Diane L Larson

Project Status:

In Progress

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