Evidence of qualitative differences between soil-occupancy effects of invasive vs. native grassland plant species

Nicholas R. Jordan, Diane Larson, Sheri C. Huerd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Diversified grasslands that contain native plant species are being recognized as important elements of agricultural landscapes and for production of biofuel feedstocks as well as a variety of other ecosystem services. Unfortunately, establishment of such grasslands is often difficult, unpredictable, and highly vulnerable to interference and invasion by weeds. Evidence suggests that soil-microbial "legacies" of invasive perennial species can inhibit growth of native grassland species. However, previous assessments of legacy effects of soil occupancy by invasive species that invade grasslands have focused on single invasive species and on responses to invasive soil occupancy in only a few species. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that legacy effects of invasive species differ qualitatively from those of native grassland species. In a glasshouse, three invasive and three native grassland perennials and a native perennial mixture were grown separately through three cycles of growth and soil conditioning in soils with and without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), after which we assessed seedling growth in these soils. Native species differed categorically from invasives in their response to soil conditioning by native or invasive species, but these differences depended on the presence of AMF. When AMF were present, native species largely had facilitative effects on invasive species, relative to effects of invasives on other invasives. Invasive species did not facilitate native growth; neutral effects were predominant, but strong soil-mediated inhibitory effects on certain native species occurred. Our results support the hypothesis that successful plant invaders create biological legacies in soil that inhibit native growth, but suggest also this mechanism of invasion will have nuanced effects on community dynamics, as some natives may be unaffected by such legacies. Such native species may be valuable as nurse plants that provide cost-effective restoration of soil conditions needed for efficient establishment of diversified grasslands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalInvasive Plant Science and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Plant-soil feedback
  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • biofuel
  • invasion ecology
  • invasive plants
  • nurse plants
  • soil legacy


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