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Richness, not evenness, of invasive plant species promotes invasion success into native plant communities via selection effects

Citation

Wang, Xue et al. (2022), Richness, not evenness, of invasive plant species promotes invasion success into native plant communities via selection effects, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2jm63xsq8

Abstract

Native plant communities are often invaded by multiple alien species. It is still unclear how increasing diversity of alien invasive species suppresses the growth of native species and thus contributes to invasion success. In the subtropical monsoon region of Southeast China, we experimentally created a native plant community with 18 herbaceous species. One week later, we let it be invaded by either zero (controls without invasion), one, two, four or eight alien plant species, with either high or low species evenness. After a four-month growth period we harvested the aboveground biomass of each species. We found that increasing invasive species richness significantly increased invasive plant biomass, the biomass of all invasive and native plant species within the community, and invasion success (the ratio of invasive plant biomass to the biomass of all native and invasive plants), but it did not significantly reduce native plant biomass. Experimentally manipulating invasive species evenness did not influence invasion success and did not show any differential suppression effects on native plants. One invasive species, Sesbania cannabina, became dominant in terms of plant biomass, irrespective of its proportion in the alien plant mixtures. Throughout this experiment, effects of invasive species richness on invasion success were mainly due to such selection effects among the invasive species. On the other hand, the unchanged biomass of native species under increasing invasive plant richness suggests the presence of at least partly complementary resource niches between invasive and native species.

Funding

The Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province of China, Award: LQ20C160008

The Ten-Thousand-Talent Program of Zhejiang Province, Award: 2018R52016