Maternal experience and soil origin influence interactions between resident species and a dominant invasive species
Invasive species dominance in invaded communities may not be long-lasting due to regulatory processes, such as plant–soil feedbacks and neighboring species adaptation. Further, the change in species competitive ability may be contingent upon neighbor identity (i.e., specialized response) or consistent across neighbors (i.e., generalized response). Specialized responses can facilitate overall coexistence, while generalized responses may result in competitive exclusion. We set up a greenhouse experiment to test, in three species, the effect of soil conditions (non-invaded vs. invaded soil) and maternal experience (offspring of maternal plants from invaded vs. non-invaded areas) on species competitive ability against the invader Bromus inermis and conspecifics. If changes in species competitive ability against B. inermis were also evident when interacting with conspecifics, it would suggest a generalized increased/decreased competitive ability. Maternal experience resulted in reduced suppression of B. inermis in the three species and no change in tolerance. On the other hand, tolerance to B. inermis was enhanced when plants grew in soil from invaded areas, compared to non-brome soil. Importantly, both the decreased suppression due to maternal experience with B. inermis and the increased tolerance in invaded soil appear to be invader specific, as no such effects were observed when interacting with conspecifics. Specialized responses should facilitate coexistence, as no individual/species is a weaker or stronger competitor against all other neighbors or under all local soil conditions. Further, the negative plant–soil feedback for B. inermis should facilitate native species recovery in invaded areas and result in lower B. inermis performance and dominance over time.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-017-3996-z