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Combining biogeographic approaches to advance invasion ecology and methodology

Cite this dataset

Ortega, Yvette et al. (2022). Combining biogeographic approaches to advance invasion ecology and methodology [Dataset]. Dryad.


1) Understanding the causes of plant invasions requires that parallel field studies are conducted in the native and introduced ranges to elucidate how biogeographic shifts alter the individual performance, population success, and community-level impacts of invading plants. Three primary methods deployed in in situ biogeographic studies are directed surveys, where researchers seek out populations of target species, randomized surveys, and field experiments. Despite the importance of these approaches for advancing biogeographic research, their relative merits have not been evaluated.

2) We concurrently deployed directed surveys, randomized surveys, and in situ field experiments for studying six grassland plant species in the native and introduced ranges. Metrics included plant size, fecundity, recruitment, abundance, and invader impact, as well as soil properties and root associations with putative fungal mutualists and pathogens.

3) Consistent with key invasion hypotheses, Bromus tectorum experienced increased size and fecundity in the introduced range linked to population increases and significant invader impacts, along with altered fungal associations. However, performance differences did not predict population increases and invader impacts across species. Rather, the differential effect of disturbance in facilitating greater recruitment in the introduced range appeared to play a crucial, though previously underexplored, role in driving invader success.

4) Directed surveys consistently generated information on plant performance and fungal associations. However, soil sampling suggested that directed surveys may have been biased toward disturbed conditions for half the species. Randomized surveys generated robust data for population comparisons and impact, but generally failed to produce performance metrics for species that were uncommon or flowered outside the peak sampling window. Field experiments controlled for bias and confounding factors and provided rare information on recruitment and disturbance effects, but scant recruitment in the native range and ethical constraints on growing invaders in the introduced range limited information on performance and plant-fungal interactions.

5) Synthesis. Each method had strengths and weaknesses. However, when combined they provided complementary information to paint the most complete biogeographic picture to date for several introduced plants. We propose a hybrid approach to optimize biogeographic studies.


These data were collected as part of three related biogeographic studies compared in the paper: directed surveys, randomized surveys, and a field experiment.  Data derived included plant performance and abundance metrics, fungal abundance and community composition, and soil nutrient levels.  Datafiles are organized by study, with the exception of fungal community composition data found in separate files for AMF and pathogens, respectively.  See 1) README tab within each datafile and 2) Methods in the paper for full details.

Usage notes

Datafiles are excel spreadsheets.