Field-based effects of allelopathy in invaded tallgrass prairie
MacDougall, Andrew S.
Sikes, Benjamin A.
NRC Research Press
Scholarly/refereed, author accepted manuscript
© Copyright 2011 Canadian Science Publishing
MetadataShow full item record
Allelopathic phytochemicals have been linked to invasion success, but their role in the invasion process remains unclear. Toxicity effects demonstrated with lab bioassays may be neutralized in soils, and their role in population expansion can be intertwined with nonallelopathic processes that also influence dispersal and establishment. Here, we use greenhouse experiments to test the soil-based impacts of invasive fine fescue (Festuca rubra L.) on recruitment in tallgrass prairie. Fescue roots release the growth inhibitor m-tyrosine. Using root washes and fescue-conditioned soils to mimic field potency, we determined allelopathic impacts on recruitment, including intraspecific limitation. We also tested whether nonallelopathic factors (propagule pressure, disturbance, and fertility) influence invasion into constructed fescue and prairie mesocosms, and whether root washes inhibit arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. We observed significant negative effects of fescue soils and root washes on germination and seedling survival, including on fescue itself. Mesocosm invasion, however, was determined more by nonallelopathic mechanisms (propagule pressure and rapid growth). In prairie mesocosms, fescue invasion was higher than its own understory, with no effects of disturbance or fertility. Tallgrass species had difficulty establishing in all environments, regardless of propagule pressure. Impacts on AM fungal hyphal length and spore production were insignificant. Our results suggest that nonallelopathic traits may be sufficient to explain fescue invasion, with allelopathy likely emerging as a final "coup de grâce" for recruiting native grasses once dominance has been attained. Allelopathic species, including fine fescue, may thus not necessarily be invasive unless nonallelopathic traits facilitate establishment prior to the accumulation of soil-based toxins.
J Harnden†, AS MacDougall and BA Sikes. (2011) Field-based effects of allelopathy in invaded tallgrass prairie. Botany 89(4): 227-234. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/b11-009
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