Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Extrinsic environmental factors, not resident diversity itself, lead to invasion of Ageratum conyzoides L. in diverse communities.

Abstract

The relationship between diversity and invasibility might be confounded by extrinsic environmental factors and the evolutionary structure of the resident community. To examine the role of extrinsic environmental factors, species and phylogenetic diversity in regulating community susceptibility to invasion, we established 109 plots either with or without Ageratum conyzoides L. in Liandu, China. We identified all the species in our samples, weighed the aboveground biomass of each species, and measured environmental variables. For all species recorded in our survey, we constructed a community phylogeny using PhytoPhylo mega-phylogeny as a backbone. We selected the best-fit environment model based on the minimum corrected Akaike information criteria score to examine the effect of extrinsic environmental variables on the relative abundance of A. conyzoides. Relationship between biodiversity and invasion of A. conyzoides was examined by a multiple regression, in which extrinsic ecological factors and biodiversity were combined to predict the relative abundance of A. conyzoides. To reduce the number of extrinsic variables, the first six components produced by a principal component analysis of environmental variables were used as predictive variables in the multiple regression. The best-fit environment model indicated that the relative abundance of A. conyzoides was higher in summer and in communities with lower total organic matter and higher total nitrogen in the soil. The multiple regression indicated that only the positive relationship between the Shannon-Wiener diversity of exotics and the relative abundance of A. conyzoides was significant. This result challenges the importance of diversity-resistance to plant invasion. Generalist facilitation might exist between A. conyzoides and other exotic species, although mechanisms for such facilitation are unclear. Overall, our finding suggests the extrinsic factors covarying with diversity are more important than diversity itself in regulating community susceptibility to invasion.