Helianthus tuberosus at home and away: stronger ecological impacts in invaded than in native range are not explained by arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization.
The impact of invasive plants on vegetation can vary greatly depending on the characteristics of the invaders and community invasibility. As to the factors that influence a plant's ability to invade, recent studies suggest that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) may be important regulators in plant invasions. To better understand the interactions of Helianthus tuberosus with co-occurring species in its native North American and invaded European ranges, we carried out plot-based field surveys to determine whether the cover of H. tuberosus, its stem number and height, bare ground cover and amount of litter differ between ranges and how they interact with numbers of species in the plant community. To provide information about AMF colonization of H. tuberosus, we evaluated AMF colonization in both ranges and tested the difference between continents, the effect of cover of H. tuberosus and their interaction with AMF. In the invaded range in Europe, H. tuberosus plants grew taller, had a greater stem density and there were fewer species in the invaded plant communities than in its native range in North America. In contrast, the cover of H. tuberosus and litter cover did not differ between the two continents. Plants of H. tuberosus were colonized by AMF in both ranges, but we found no statistical support for the potential effects of continent, the cover of H. tuberosus and their interaction with AMF. Overall, our study revealed that H. tuberosus exerts a negative impact on co-occurring species in the invaded European range, but not in North America where the species is native. To our knowledge, this is the first evaluation of AMF colonization of H. tuberosus at home and away and the results do not support either the degraded or enhanced mutualism hypotheses.