Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 645–661 | Cite as

Invasive belowground mutualists of woody plants

Original Paper

Abstract

Most plants require mutualistic associations to survive, which can be an important limitation on their ability to become invasive. There are four strategies that permit plants to become invasive without being limited by a lack of mutualists. One is to not be dependent on mutualists. The other three strategies are to form novel mutualisms, form associations with cosmopolitan species, or co-invade with mutualists from their native range. Historically there has been a bias to study mutualisms from a plant perspective, with little consideration of soil biota as invasive species in their own right. Here we address this by reviewing the literature on belowground invasive mutualists of woody plants. We focus on woody invaders as ecosystem-transforming plants that frequently have a high dependence on belowground mutualists. We found that co-invasions are common, with many ectomycorrhizal plant species and N-fixing species co-invading with their mutualists. Other groups, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal plants, tend to associate with cosmopolitan fungal species or to form novel associations in their exotic range. Only limited evidence exists of direct negative effects of co-invading mutualists on native mutualist communities, and effects on native plants appear to be largely driven by altered environmental conditions rather than direct interactions. Mutualists that introduce novel ecosystem functions have effects greater than would be predicted based solely on their biomass. Focusing on the belowground aspects of plant invasions provides novel insights into the impacts, processes and management of invasions of both soil organisms and woody plant species.

Keywords

Biological invasions Co-invasion Cosmopolitan species Co-xenic Mutualism Mycorrhiza Novel interactions Soil biota Tree invasions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the attendees from the workshop on tree invasion (held in Isla Victoria in September 2012); Duane Peltzer, Jeremy Hayward and Romina Dimarco for helpful comments on early versions of the paper; Kabir Peay, Matt McGlone, Simon Fowler, and Jamie Wood for helpful input. IAD was supported by Core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group. MN was supported by the National Science Foundation (DEB 0948930).

Supplementary material

10530_2013_612_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (64 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 63 kb)

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMACONICET-Universidad Nacional del ComahueBarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchLincolnNew Zealand
  3. 3.Bio-Protection Research CentreLincoln UniversityLincolnNew Zealand

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