Data from: Increased primary production from an exotic invader does not subsidize native rodents
Lucero, Jacob E.; Allen, Phil S.; McMillan, Brock R. (2016), Data from: Increased primary production from an exotic invader does not subsidize native rodents, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1v243
Invasive plants have tremendous potential to enrich native food webs by subsidizing net primary productivity. Here, we explored how a potential food subsidy, seeds produced by the aggressive invader cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), is utilized by an important guild of native consumers – granivorous small mammals – in the Great Basin Desert, USA. In a series of field experiments we examined 1) how cheatgrass invasion affects the density and biomass of seed rain at the ecosystem-level; 2) how seed resources from cheatgrass numerically affect granivorous small mammals; and 3) how the food preferences of native granivores might mediate the trophic integration of cheatgrass seeds. Relative to native productivity, cheatgrass invasion increased the density and biomass of seed rain by over 2000% (P < 0.01) and 3500% (P < 0.01), respectively. However, granivorous small mammals in native communities showed no positive response in abundance, richness, or diversity to experimental additions of cheatgrass seeds over one year. This lack of response correlated with a distinct preference for seeds from native grasses over seeds from cheatgrass. Our experiments demonstrate that increased primary productivity associated with exotic plant invasions may not necessarily subsidize consumers at higher trophic levels. In this context, cheatgrass invasion could disrupt native food webs by providing less-preferred resources that fail to enrich higher trophic levels.