RODRIGUEZ CABAL mariano Alberto
Resource availability and plant diversity explain the invasion of an exotic grass
SARA KUEBBING; MARIANO A. RODRIGUEZ CABAL; DAVID FOWLER; LAUREN BREZA; JENNIFER A. SCHWITZER; JOSEPH K. BAILEY
JOURNAL OF PLANT ECOLOGY-UK
OXFORD UNIV PRESS
Lugar: Oxford; Año: 2013
Aims In this study, we examine two common invasion biology hypotheses? biotic resistance and fluctuating resource availability?to explain the patterns of invasion of an invasive grass, Microstegium vimineum. Methods We used 13-year-old deer exclosures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA, to examine how chronic disturbance by deer browsing affects available resources, plant diversity, and invasion in an understory plant community. Using two replicate 1 m2 plots in each deer browsed and unbrowsed area, we recorded each plant species present, the abundance per species, and the fractional per- cent cover of vegetation by the cover classes: herbaceous, woody, and graminoid. For each sample plot, we also estimated overstory canopy cover, soil moisture, total soil carbon and nitrogen, and soil pH as a measure of abiotic differences between plots. Important Findings We found that plant community composition between chronically browsed and unbrowsed plots differed markedly. Plant diversity was 40% lower in browsed than in unbrowsed plots. At our sites, diver- sity explained 48% and woody plant cover 35% of the variation in M. vimineum abundance. In addition, we found 3.3 times less M. vimineum in the unbrowsed plots due to higher woody plant cover and plant diversity than in the browsed plots. A parsimoni- ous explanation of these results indicate that disturbances such as herbivory may elicit multiple conditions, namely releasing available resources such as open space, light, and decreasing plant diversity, which may facilitate the proliferation of an invasive species. Finally, by testing two different hypotheses, this study addresses more recent calls to incorporate multiple hypotheses into research attempting to explain plant invasion.