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Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1671–1683 | Cite as

Similarities in the impact of three large invasive plant species on soil seed bank communities

  • Margherita Gioria
  • Bruce Osborne
Original Paper

Abstract

Invasions by alien plant species may substantially alter soil seed bank communities. While decreases in seed bank species richness, diversity, and composition as a consequence of plant invasions have been reported, the characteristics of seed banks associated with different invasive species have not been compared in any detail. Here, we describe changes in the characteristics of soil seed banks invaded by three large herbaceous invasive plants, Fallopia japonica, Gunnera tinctoria, and Heracleum mantegazzianum. The study was carried out at the spatial scales of site and plot, to reduce variability in seed bank data. Information on seed bank persistence was inferred from seed depth (0–5, 5–10, and 10–15 cm) and from time of sampling (May and October). Despite differences in the reproductive strategy and geographic distribution of these invaders, as well as in the standing vegetation and habitat types examined, the seed banks of invaded areas were similar in composition and in the relative abundance of different species. Invaded seed banks were dominated by seeds of a few agricultural weed species and/or rushes, suggesting that common features of the invaders, including a large standing biomass, extensive litter production, and the formation of mono-species stands may result in comparable selection pressures that favors traits that are largely genera or species-specific. These findings have a direct relevance for the development of strategies aimed at restoring previously-invaded sites while also improving our understanding of the long-term implications of plant invasions.

Keywords

Invasive species Diversity Soil seed bank Fallopia japonica Gunnera tinctoria Heracleum mantegazzianum 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Declan Doogue, for providing information on the location of Heracleum mantegazzianum, and Dr. Joe Caffrey at the Central Fisheries Board. Much appreciation goes to Dr. Ken Thompson for his advice on the interpretation of the results and for encouraging the use of novel approaches for the analysis of soil seed bank data. Thanks to Dr. Simberloff for providing insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This study was supported by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency, under the National Development Plan 2000–2006.

Supplementary material

10530_2009_9580_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (96 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 96 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biology and Environmental Science, Agriculture and Food Science CentreUniversity College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland

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