Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Three invasive tree species change soil chemistry in Guam forests.

Abstract

Research Highlights: Established stands of Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit, Spathodea campanulata P. Beauv., and Vitex parviflora Juss. modified soils in Guam's limestone forests, reducing storage pools of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Background and Objectives: Invasive plants may engineer negative changes in ecosystem properties. This study was conducted to determine changes in soil chemistry following infestations of three problematic tree species on Guam. Materials and Methods: Minerals, metals, and mineralization dynamics were measured in invaded sites and paired sites with biodiverse native tree cover. Results: Most soil properties were significantly changed by long-term infestations of the invasive tree species. The soils within invaded sites exhibited total carbon, total nitrogen, and available phosphorus that were less than native sites. In contrast, the carbon/nitrogen ratio increased for every species-site combination. The other chemical properties were idiosyncratic among the sites and species. Conclusions: Mitigation and restoration activities that include the removal of these trees from project sites may require many years for the below-ground ecosystems to return to their native state. These three invasive trees decrease the ability of Guam soils to sequester recalcitrant forms of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.