Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Effects of an introduced mustard, Thlaspi arvense, on soil fungal communities in subalpine meadows.

Abstract

The subalpine meadows of the Rocky Mountains, USA, are at the advancing front of global change; however, little is known about the sensitivities of high-elevation soil fungal communities to ongoing ecological changes. Soil fungi are sensitive to abiotic and biotic environmental stressors, including climate change, soil disturbance, and the presence of introduced, non-native plants. Invasive plants in the Brassicaceae (mustard family) are known to alter fungal community structure, suppress arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and change their relationship with native plant hosts in forest ecosystems, but these phenomena have not been studied in the subalpine zone where non-native mustard plants are becoming established. Here, we investigated whether the presence of the introduced mustard plant, Thlaspi arvense, is associated with distinct properties of the whole fungal and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in subalpine meadow ecosystems. We observed clear differences in the composition, relative abundance of core taxa, and mean taxon relatedness of soil fungal communities in plots with T. arvense relative to those with only native vegetation. A suite of novel fungi were associated with T. arvense, and overall patterns of AMF phylogenetic diversity were drastically reduced in association with its presence. Our results suggest that T. arvense introduction impacts the soil fungal community, with potential implications for native plant communities and soil nutrient cycling in high elevation meadows of the Rocky Mountains.