Positive interaction between invasive plants: the influence of Pyracantha angustifolia on the recruitment of native and exotic woody species.
Positive interactions between species are known to play an important role in the dynamics of plant communities, including the enhancement of invasions by exotics. We studied the influence of the invasive shrub Pyracantha angustifolia (Rosaceae) on the recruitment of native and exotic woody species in a secondary shrubland in central Argentina mountains. We recorded woody sapling recruitment and micro-environmental conditions under the canopies of Pyracantha and the dominant native shrub Condalia montana (Rhamnaceae), and in the absence of shrub cover, considering these situations as three treatments. We found that native and exotic species richness were higher under Pyracantha than under the other treatments. Ligustrum lucidum (Oleaceae), an exotic bird-dispersed shade-tolerant tree, was the most abundant species recruiting in the area, and its density was four times higher under the canopy of Pyracantha. This positive interaction may be related to Pyracantha's denser shading, to the mechanical protection of its canopy against ungulates, and/or to the simultaneous fruit ripening of both woody invaders.