Effects of Praxelis clematidea invasion on soil nitrogen fractions and transformation rates in a tropical savanna.
Plant invasion has been reported to affect a mass of soil ecological processes and functions, although invasion effects are often context-, species- and ecosystem-specific. This study was conducted to explore potential impacts of Praxelis clematidea invasion on contents of total and available soil nitrogen (N) and microbial N transformations in a tropical savanna. Soil samples were collected from the surface and sub-surface layers in plots with non-, slight, or severe P. clematidea invasion in Hainan Province of southern China, which remains less studied, and analyzed for contents of the total and available N fractions and microbial N transformations. Results showed that total N content significantly increased in the surface soil but trended to decrease in the sub-surface soil in the invaded plots relative to the non-invaded control. Slight invasion significantly increased soil alkali-hydrolysable N content in the two soil layers. Soil net N mineralization rate was not significantly changed in both the soil layers, although soil microbial biomass N was significantly higher in plots with severe invasion than the control. There was no significant difference in content of soil N fractions between plots with slight and severe invasion. Our results suggest that invasion of P. clematidea promotes soil N accumulation in the surface soil layer, which is associated with increased microbial biomass N. However, the invasion-induced ecological impacts did not increase with further invasion. Significantly higher microbial biomass N was maintained in plots with severe invasion, implying that severe P. clematidea invasion may accelerate nutrient cycling in invaded ecosystems.