Co-invasion by Pinus and its mycorrhizal fungi.
The absence of co-evolved mutualists of plants invading a novel habitat is the logical corollary of the more widely recognized 'enemy escape'. To avoid or overcome the loss of mutualists, plants may co-invade with nonnative mutualists, form novel associations with native mutualists or form associations with native cosmopolitan mutualists, which are native but not novel to the invading plant. We tested these hypotheses by contrasting the ectomycorrhizal fungal communities associated with invasive Pinus contorta in New Zealand with co-occurring endemic Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides. Fungal communities on Pinus were species poor (14 ectomycorrhizal species) and dominated by nonnative (93%) and cosmopolitan fungi (7%). Nothofagus had a species-rich (98 species) fungal community dominated by native Cortinarius and two cosmopolitan fungi. These results support co-invasion by mutualists rather than novel associations as an important mechanism by which plants avoid or overcome the loss of mutualists, consistent with invasional meltdown.