Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Competitive effects of plant invaders on and their responses to native species assemblages change over time.

Abstract

Alien plant invaders are often considered to be more competitive than natives, and species-rich plant communities are often considered to be more resistant to invaders than species-poor communities. However, the competitive interactions between invaders and assemblages of different species richness are unlikely to be static over time (e.g. during a growth season). To test this, we grew five alien and five native species as invaders in a total of 21 artificial assemblages of one, two or four native competitor species. To test for temporal changes in the reciprocal effects of invaders and the competitor assemblages on each other, and how these depend on the species richness of the assemblages, we harvested plants at three growth stages (weeks 4, 8 and 12). We found that the invaders and competitor assemblages had negative effects on each other. Aboveground biomass of invaders was reduced by the presence of a competitor assemblage, irrespective of its species richness, and this difference gradually increased over time. Alien invaders accumulated more aboveground biomass than the native invaders, but only after 12 weeks of growth. Meanwhile, the invaders also negatively affected the biomass of the competitor assemblages. For multi-species assemblages, the increase in the negative effect of the presence of the invader occurred mainly between weeks 4 and 8, whereas it happened mainly between weeks 8 and 12 for the one-species assemblages. Our results suggest that although alien invaders are more competitive than native invaders, the competitive effects of the invaders on and their responses to native competitor assemblages changed over time, irrespective of the origin of the invaders.