, Volume 174, Issue 4, pp 1377–1386

The effect of endophyte presence on Schedonorus arundinaceus (tall fescue) establishment varies with grassland community structure


    • Department of BiologyUniversity of North Dakota
  • Emily Drystek
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Toronto
  • Hafiz Maherali
    • Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of Guelph
  • Jonathan A. Newman
    • School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Guelph
Community ecology - Original research

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-013-2862-x

Cite this article as:
Yurkonis, K.A., Drystek, E., Maherali, H. et al. Oecologia (2014) 174: 1377. doi:10.1007/s00442-013-2862-x


The endophyte Neotyphodium coenophialum in Schedonorus arundinaceus (tall fescue) may alter host interactions with specific resident species or shift the host’s niche. These effects can be quantified by assessing tall fescue responses to, and effects on, the variation among resident species (selection) and resident species interactions (complementarity). To determine how N. coenophialum affects tall fescue, grassland microcosms containing 16 transplants of two, four, or eight resident species were seeded with endophyte-infected (E+) or endophyte-free (E−) Kentucky-31 (KY-31) tall fescue. All resident species were also grown in monoculture. Aboveground biomass was harvested 9 weeks after tall fescue was added (18 weeks’ total growth). At harvest, more E+ than E− individuals were present and they represented a larger portion of the aboveground biomass across richness treatments, despite similar germination in concurrent trials. Tall fescue individuals were larger in microcosms dominated by more productive resident species (greater selection). In contrast, fewer E−, but not E+, individuals were present in microcosms with more facilitative interactions among the resident species (greater complementarity). E− and E+ tall fescue also affected resident species differently. High-richness E+ microcosms were more diverse and less dominated by productive species (lower selection) than E− microcosms. Thus, E+ KY-31 may more readily establish in, and affect, species-rich, functionally diverse communities as a result of niche shifts during establishment and negative effects on specific resident species. Although results need to be further tested under field conditions, it appears that endophyte presence may only facilitate KY-31 invasion into a limited suite of community types.


Kentucky-31 tall fescue cultivarFestuca arundinaceaSpecies richnessSimpson’s diversitySchedonorus phoenix

Supplementary material

442_2013_2862_MOESM1_ESM.doc (78 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 78 kb)

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014