Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effect of microfibers combined with UV-B and drought on plant community.

Abstract

There is an increasing recognition that microplastics contamination in soils has become an important threat for terrestrial ecosystems, and can interact with drought. In addition, due to the increasingly serious environmental pollution and the destruction of the ozone layer, the UV-B radiation to the earth's surface has gradually increased. However, we currently have no information about potential effects of microplastics, UV-B, and drought on plant communities. In order to make up for the vacancy, we conducted an experiment with grassland plant communities. Polyester fiber microplastics (absent, present), UV-B (fully transparent polythene film, attenuating UV-B radiation), and soil water conditions (well-watered, drought) were applied in a fully factorial design. A plant community consisting of four indigenous species and one invasive species, co-occurring in the terrestrial ecosystem of the northern temperate zone was established, and we investigated the effects of microplastics, UV-B, drought and their interactions on plant functional traits and plant community structure. We found that shoot and root biomass decreased with drought but increased with microfibers, and drought significantly decreased specific leaf area at the community level. Physiological and biochemical indexes of individual species and plant community were affected by microfibers, UV-B, drought and their interaction to a varying degree. More importantly, five species were divided into three clusters along PC1 corresponding to individuals from G. longituba and P. depressa, B. bipinnata and M. sativa, plus G. parviflora, which indicated that at the same conditions, G. parviflora would occupy unique ecological niches that affect the growth of native species. Our research offers insights into the mechanisms of the coexistence of native and invasive plants, as well as the ecological consequences of microplastics and other environment factors on plant communities.