The invasive Parthenium hysterophorus L. has limited impact on soil chemistry and enzyme activities but influences above and below ground biodiversity.
The invasive Parthenium hysterophorus L., a Weed of National Significance, is pervasive in agriculture, conservation and disturbed lands of central Queensland. In recent years, it has spread to the eastern and southern parts of the State and has the potential for incursion to the neighbouring States of New South Wales and Northern Territory, especially in view of climate change. However, very little work (most done overseas with inconsistent findings) has been reported on the weed's impact on soil processes and native biodiversity. The work reported herein (involving soil sampling across multiple sites in central Queensland in parthenium weed infested and non-infested habitats) showed that due to the weed's annual growth habit, a null effect was detected for soil chemistry (both micro- and macro-nutrients) and enzyme activities (β-glucosidase, fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis and total microbial nitrogen and carbon). In contrast, significant negative impacts of parthenium weed infestation were observed for both below-ground (soil seed bank) and above-ground composition and diversity of co-occurring plant species. The results are discussed in terms of sampling methodology, adaptive pasture management, the weed's growth habit and its 'perceived' position on Queensland weed list for risk assessment (based on impact, abundance and spread) and management.