Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ligustrum lucidum invasion decreases abundance and relative contribution of soil fauna to litter decomposition but increases decomposition rate in a subtropical montane forest of northwestern Argentina.

Abstract

Invasive plant species can alter litter decomposition rates through changes in litter quality, environment conditions, and decomposer organisms (microflora and soil fauna), but limited research has examined their direct impact on soil fauna. We assessed the abundance and relative contribution of soil meso- and macrofauna to litter decomposition in a forest invaded by Ligustrum lucidum W.T. Aiton and in a noninvaded forest in a subtropical mountain forest in northwestern Argentina, using litterbags (0.01, 2, and 6 mm mesh size). Additionally, we analyzed the litter quality and soil properties of both forest types. Soil fauna abundance was lower in the invaded forest than in the noninvaded forest. The contribution of soil macrofauna to litter decomposition was important in both forest types, but soil mesofauna contribution was significant only in noninvaded forest. Litter decomposition was significantly faster in the invaded forest, consistent with its higher quality litter compared with the uninvaded forest. Invaded forest had significantly lower litter accumulation, lower soil moisture, and greater soil pH than noninvaded forest. Our results showed that although soil fauna was less abundant and played a less pronounced role in litter decomposition in invaded forest, these changes did not translate into a reduced litter decomposition rate due to the higher quality of litter produced in the invaded forest.