How does an invasive Heracleum sosnowskyi affect soil nematode communities in natural conditions?
We analysed the effect of the invasive perennial plant Heracleum sosnowskyi on soil nematode communities and diversity, and plant species composition, by comparing invaded and non-invaded (control) areas in natural conditions. Invasion of H. sosnowskyi caused significant shifts in plant species composition, which subsequently modified nematode assemblages. Stress-sensitive omnivores, fungivores and root-biomass-dependent obligate plant parasites best reflected changes in soil nematode communities under the influence of H. sosnowskyi invasion. The negative effect of H. sosnowskyi was most evident on Aphelenchus, Tylencholaimus, Geocenamus, Helicotylenchus, Pratylenchus, Tylenchorhynchus and Aporcelaimellus. Our results indicate that significant changes in the herbaceous layer after H. sosnowskyi invasion in ecosystems where H. sosnowskyi eventually became dominant impacted soil nematode communities but did not affect nematode diversity. This was in contrast to the habitats where a solitary plant of H. sosnowskyi grew and no significant changes in nematode communities were observed.