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Invasive Melinis minutiflora outperforms native species, but the magnitude of the effect is context-dependent

  • Rafael D. Zenni
  • Alexandre B. Sampaio
  • Yara P. Lima
  • Marco Pessoa-Filho
  • Tulio C. L. Lins
  • Vania R. Pivello
  • Curtis Daehler
Original Paper

Abstract

Impacts of invasive species are context-dependent owing to genetic differences in the invasive species, in the abiotic environment or the recipient biotas. Here, we tested how these factors affected the invasive grass Melinis minutiflora and its impacts on native plants in Hawai’i (USA) and in the Brazilian Cerrado under four environmental conditions. We sampled M. minutiflora and three native species from each studied region and conducted two equivalent greenhouse experiments. In each experiment, we manipulated shade, irrigation, soil nutrients, and interspecific competition. We found that M. minutiflora had low genetic polymorphism, and two distinct genetic clusters exist. Both clusters exist in Hawai’i and Brazil. Melinis minutiflora biomass was three-times greater in Brazil compared to Hawai’i. Both in Brazil and Hawai’i, M. minutiflora was affected by shade, irrigation, and competition. While in Brazil the identity of the competing native species did not matter for M. minutiflora, in Hawai’i the identity of the native species affected M. minutiflora when shade was applied. Brazilian native species were all affected by shading, two of them by competition with M. minutiflora, and one of them by fertilization. Two Hawaiian native plants were affected by shade and competition with M. minutiflora, whereas one native species was not affected by any of the experimental factors. In summary, both biotic and abiotic factors affected native and invasive species. However, in all cases native species were outperformed by the invader.

Keywords

Brazil Cerrado Hawai’i Invasion biogeography Invasion ecology Invasiveness Molasses grass 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Isabel Schmidt, Courtney Angelo, Mashuri Waite, Amy Tsuneyoshi, Travis Idol, Servillano Lamer, Sergio Tadeu Meirelles, and Agno Damasceno for assistance with field and greenhouse work. We thank Carlos Romero Martins, Clyde Imada and Neil Snow for grass specimens’ identification. The study was funded by Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa de São Paulo (FAPESP) and Natural Grasslands Conservancy. We used the facilities of the University of Hawai‘I, Departments of Botany and NREM, in Hawai’i, and the Juquery State Park in Brazil. RDZ and ABS were supported by CNPq-Brazil.

Author’s Contributions

RDZ analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. ABS, VRP, and CD designed and carried out the experiments. YPL, MP-F, and TCLL collected data and performed the genetic analyses. All authors revised the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1854_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Setor de Ecologia, Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil
  2. 2.Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação do Cerrado - Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da BiodiversidadeBrasíliaBrazil
  3. 3.Universidade Católica de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  4. 4.Embrapa CerradosPlanaltinaBrazil
  5. 5.Instituto da Ciência da Saúde, Campus BrasíliaUniversidade PaulistaBrasíliaBrazil
  6. 6.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade de São PauloCidade UniversitáriaBrazil
  7. 7.Department of BotanyUniversity of Hawai’iHonoluluUSA

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