Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Latitudinal variation in the diversity and composition of various organisms associated with an exotic plant: the role of climate and plant invasion.

Abstract

Climate and plant invasion can shape biotic communities at large spatial scales. Yet, how diverse groups of organisms associated with an invasive plant change simultaneously with latitude and the roles of climate and plant invasion remains unclear. We conducted a field survey of plants (native vs exotic), soil fungi (pathogenic, saprotrophic, arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) fungi) and arthropods (herbivores, predators and detritivores) associated with the invasive plant Alternanthera philoxeroides at 49 sites spanning 14 latitudinal degrees in China. Results showed that diversity and composition of these functional groups changed differently with latitude, partially due to their specific responses to climate, invasion of A. philoxeroides and other biotic environments. Moreover, A. philoxeroides invasion and/or composition of other plants, rather than climate, predicted the diversity and richness of major functional groups and partly explained variance in composition of putative fungal pathogens. Our results suggest that climate and plant invasion could affect the diversity and composition of diverse groups of organisms simultaneously and their relative importance might vary among functional groups. Thus, it is necessary to explore latitudinal patterns and underlying drivers of diverse groups of organisms simultaneously to improve our ability to predict and mitigate threats posed by plant invasion and climate change.