Biogeographical comparison of terrestrial invertebrates and trophic feeding guilds in the native and invasive ranges of Carpobrotus edulis.
Plant invasions impact on biodiversity by altering the composition of native communities by disrupting taxonomic and functional diversity. Non-native plants are often released from their natural enemies, which might result in a reduction of the attack of primary consumers. However, they can also be exposed to the attack of new herbivores that they might not be able to tolerate. Hence, invertebrate communities can be influenced by invasive non-native plants, which in turn modify interactions and change environmental conditions. In this study, we examined the compositional and trophic diversity of invertebrate species, comparing ecosystems with and without the plant species Carpobrotus edulis in coastal areas in its native (South Africa) and introduced (Iberian Peninsula) ranges. Results show that C. edulis has a clear impact on invertebrate communities in its non-native range, reducing their abundance in invaded areas, and particularly affecting certain trophic groups. Invasive C. edulis also alters the invertebrate diversity by not only reducing abundance but also by altering species composition. Overall, the physical dominance of C. edulis modifies the co-occurrence of invertebrate assemblages, reducing the number of trophic groups and leading to substantial effects on primary consumers. Results suggest that the lack of natural enemies might be an important driver of the expansion of C. edulis in its introduced range. Further work is needed to examine long-term changes caused by non-native plants on invertebrate assemblages and the subsequent modification of biological interactions.