Rethinking invasion impacts across multiple field sites using European swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) as a model invader.
European swallowwort [Vincetoxicum rossicum (Kleopow) Barbarich] is found in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. It forms dense growth patterns that reduce plant and insect biodiversity, and lab assays show that it produces allelopathic compounds that affect microbial activity. Consequently, we hypothesized that V. rossicum alters soil microbiome composition and activity in invaded habitats, which may impact ecosystem properties and processes. We sampled soil from a similar time point within a growing season at each of five sites in New York State where V. rossicum was both present and absent. We measured bacterial and fungal microbiome composition, available soil nitrogen (N), soil respiration (CO2 flux), and soil extracellular enzyme activities. Microbial composition varied across field sites, but only fungal composition was affected by invasion. No significant differences were found between the invaded and uninvaded plots at any of the sites for available soil ammonium, nitrate, or respiration, though extractable N varied greatly between sites. Microbial hydrolytic extracellular enzyme activities suggest decreased protein degradation and increased oxidative enzyme activity with V. rossicum invasion, which is relevant to soil N and carbon cycling processes. Although V. rossicum impacted rhizosphere microbial composition and activity, it was not associated with large perturbations in ecosystem function when examined across multiple invasion sites during this short-term study.