Data from: Herbivory enhances the resistance of mangrove forest to cordgrass invasion
Cite this dataset
Zhang, Yihui; Meng, Hanyu; Wang, Yi; He, Qiang (2019). Data from: Herbivory enhances the resistance of mangrove forest to cordgrass invasion [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kv40404
The biotic resistance hypothesis proposes that biotic interactions, such as competition and herbivory, resist the establishment and spread of non-native species. The relative and interactive role of competition and herbivory in resisting plant invasions, however, remains poorly understood. We investigated the interactive role of competition and herbivory (by the native rodent Rattus losea) in resisting Spartina alterniflora (cordgrass) invasions into mangrove forests. In southern China, although exotic cordgrass numerically dominates intertidal mudflats and open gaps in mangrove forests, intact forests appear to be highly resistant to cordgrass invasion. A field transplant and rodent exclusion experiment showed that while the impact of rodent grazing on cordgrass was weak on mangrove forest edges and open mudflats, rodent grazing strongly suppressed cordgrass in mangrove understory habitats. A greenhouse experiment confirmed a synergistic interaction between grazing and light availability (a proxy for mangrove shading/competition) in suppressing cordgrass establishment, with the strongest impacts of grazing in low light conditions that likely weakened cordgrass to survive and resprout. When both were present, as in mangrove understory habitats, grazing and low light acted in concert to eliminate cordgrass establishment, resulting in resistance of mangrove forests to cordgrass invasion. Our results reveal that grazing by native herbivores can enhance the resistance of mangrove forests to cordgrass invasion in southern China, and suggest that investigating multifactor interactions may be critical to understanding community resistance to exotic invasions.