Attempting to control invasive plant species in tallgrass prairie restorations is time-consuming and costly, making improved approaches for predicting and reducing invasion imperative. Both biotic and abiotic factors mediate plant invasions, and can potentially be used by restoration managers to reduce invasion rates. Biotic factors such as plant species richness and phylogenetic diversity of the native community may impact invasion. Relatedness of invading species to those in recipient communities has also been shown to influence invasion success. However, the direction of this influence is variable, reflecting Darwin's Naturalization Conundrum. Abiotic factors such as fire regime and soil factors may impact invasion by selecting against invasive species or indicating suitable habitats for them. We surveyed 17 tallgrass prairie restorations in Illinois, USA, to investigate the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on invasion by non-native plant species at two different scales. We predicted we would find support for Darwin's Naturalization Hypothesis at the plot (neighborhood) scale with invasion by distantly related species, and find support for the Pre-adaptation Hypothesis at the site scale. We hypothesized that biotic factors would exert more influence at the neighborhood scale, while abiotic factors would be more influential at a coarser site scale. Contrary to our expectations, at the neighborhood scale we found that closely related invasive species are more likely to invade, supporting the Pre-adaptation Hypothesis. We found that native species richness and age of restoration were negatively correlated with invasion. At the site scale, soil organic matter [SOM] concentrations and heterogeneity in SOM were positively associated with the number of invasive species while pH heterogeneity was negatively associated. Restoration practitioners may be able to reduce plant invasions by increasing native species richness, and non-native species most closely related to the resident community should potentially be prioritized as those most likely to be highly invasive.
- Phylogenetic diversity