Impacts of the invasive plant Fallopia japonica (Houtt.) on plant communities and ecosystem processes
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Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) invades riparian areas and roadsides in New England. This large clonal species drastically alters the appearance of habitats by forming highly productive near-monocultures. To understand how these invasions affect ecosystem processes in New England, we quantified the impacts of F. japonica on species diversity, primary productivity, and nitrogen cycling at five locations in central Massachusetts, USA. In stands of F. japonica and in adjacent uninvaded areas, we recorded the cover of each plant species and measured the aboveground biomass and nitrogen (N) concentrations in plants, along with N retranslocation from F. japonica leaves and several soil characteristics. In addition, we severed rhizomes of peripheral F. japonica shoots to determine if clonal integration contributes to the species’ rapid spread and dominance. Stands of F. japonica had lower species diversity, but greater aboveground biomass and standing N than uninvaded areas. Nitrogen and carbon concentrations in biomass and N mineralization rates in soil did not differ between stands and adjacent areas. Rhizome severing temporarily reduced growth of F. japonica, suggesting that retranslocation of photoassimilates and/or nutrients between shoots via rhizomatal connections may maximize stand level growth rates and facilitate dominance by F. japonica.