Biological Invasions (2007) 9, 657-665

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Suzanne M. Kercher, Andrea Herr-Turoff and Joy B. Zedler (2007)
Understanding invasion as a process: the case of Phalaris arundinacea in wet prairies
Biological Invasions 9 (6), 657-665
Abstract: Invasive plants that most threaten biodiversity are those that rapidly form a monospecific stand, like the clonal grass, Phalaris arundinacea. Understanding complex and potentially interacting factors that are common in urban and agricultural landscapes and underlie rapid invasions requires an experimental, factorial approach. We tested the effects of flooding and nutrient and sediment additions (3 × 3 × 3 = 27 treatments, plus a control with no additions) on invasion of Phalaris into mesocosms containing wet prairie vegetation. We discovered a three-step invasion and degradation process: (1) initially, resident native species declined with prolonged flooding and sediment additions, and (2) prolonged flooding, sedimentation, and nutrients accelerated Phalaris aboveground growth; biomass rose to 430 times that of the control within just two growing seasons. The dramatic expansion of Phalaris in the second year resulted in the formation of monospecific stands in over one-third of the treatments, as (3) native species continued their decline in year 2. Disturbances acted alone and in combination to make the resident wetland community more invasible and Phalaris more aggressive, leading to monospecific stands. Yet, Phalaris did not always 'win': under the least disturbed conditions, the resident plant canopy remained dense and vigorous and Phalaris remained small. When anthropogenic disturbances coincide with increases in the gross supply of resources, more tolerant, fast-growing, and morphologically plastic plants like Phalaris can invade very rapidly. The fluctuating resource hypothesis should thus be refined to consider the role of interacting disturbances in facilitating invasions.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website


Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
population dynamics/ epidemiology
environment - cropping system/rotation


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Phalaris arundinacea (weed)