Soil arthropod communities are not affected by invasive Solidago gigantea aiton (Asteraceae), based on morphology and metabarcoding analyses.
Invasive plants form new ecological links with native biota that can affect soil animals. Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea Aiton) of the Asteraceae family originates in North America, but it is an invasive plant elsewhere in the world. We studied the belowground arthropod communities of invasive S. gigantea and native vegetation at three sites near Moscow, Russia. Molecular techniques allow for quick identification of the community composition but provide little information on the abundance of soil animals and should be verified by classical taxonomy methods. Thus, we identified soil arthropods using metabarcoding and morphological identification. The number of arthropod families identified by the two methods was comparable (53 and 56, respectively), with a significant correlation in the number of families detected in individual samples based on morphological and metabarcoding approaches. The structure of the belowground arthropod community was subtly different between the goldenrod and control sites. A goldenrod transplant experiment was designed to control the random factors that created site-specific variation. After one year, the abundance and diversity of soil arthropods remained the same in sites with transplanted goldenrod and the control plots, leading to the conclusion that invasive S. gigantea does not affect soil arthropod communities in this region.