Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Mycorrhizal co-invasion and novel interactions depend on neighborhood context.

Abstract

Biological invasions are a rapidly increasing driver of global change, yet fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of the factors determining the success or extent of invasions. For example, although most woody plant species depend on belowground mutualists such as mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, the relative importance of these mutualisms in conferring invasion success is unresolved. Here, we describe how neighborhood context (identity of nearby tree species) affects the formation of belowground ectomycorrhizal partnerships between fungi and seedlings of a widespread invasive tree species, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir), in New Zealand. We found that the formation of mycorrhizal partnerships, the composition of the fungal species involved in these partnerships, and the origin of the fungi (co-invading or native to New Zealand) all depend on neighborhood context. Our data suggest that nearby ectomycorrhizal host trees act as both a reservoir of fungal inoculum and a carbon source for late-successional and native fungi. By facilitating mycorrhization of P. menziesii seedlings, adult trees may alleviate mycorrhizal limitation at the P. menziesii invasion front. These results highlight the importance of studying biological invasions across multiple ecological settings to understand establishment success and invasion speed.