The impact of two non-native plant species on native flora performance: potential implications for habitat restoration.
Both Impatiens glandulifera and Fallopia japonica are highly invasive plant species that have detrimental impacts on native biodiversity in areas where they invade and form dense monocultures. Both species are weakly dependent on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) for their growth and, therefore, under monotypic stands, the AMF network can become depauperate. We evaluated the impact of I. glandulifera and F. japonica on the performance (expressed as shoot biomass) of three UK native species (Plantago lanceolata, Lotus corniculatus and Trifolium pratense) grown in soil collected from under stands of both invasive plants and compared to plants grown in soil from under stands of the corresponding native vegetation. All native species had a higher percentage colonisation of AMF when grown in uninvaded soil compared to the corresponding invaded soil. P. lanceolata and L. corniculatus had a higher biomass when grown in uninvaded soil compared to corresponding invaded soil indicating an indirect impact from the non-native species. However, for T. pratense there was no difference in biomass between soil types related to I. glandulifera, suggesting that the species is more reliant on rhizobial bacteria. We conclude that simply managing invasive populations of non-native species that are weakly, or non-dependent, on AMF is inadequate for habitat restoration as native plant colonisation and establishment may be hindered by the depleted levels of AMF in the soil below invaded monocultures. We suggest that the reintroduction of native plants to promote AMF proliferation should be incorporated into future management plans for habitats degraded by non-native plant species.