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 GioriaEmail author
  • Bruce Osborne
Original Paper


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.


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



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)


  1. Adair A, Groves R (1998) Impact of environmental weeds on biodiversity: a review and development of a methodology. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson MJ (2001) A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecol 26:32–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson MJ, Gorley R, Clarke R (2008) PERMANOVA+ for PRIMER: guide to software and statistical methods. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker H (1989) Some aspects of the natural history of seed banks. In: Leck M, Parker V, Simpson R (eds) Ecology of soil seed banks. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 9–21Google Scholar
  5. Barnard P, Thuiller W (2008) Introduction. Global change and biodiversity: future challenges. Biol Lett 4:553–555CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Beerling D, Bailey J, Conolly A (1994) Fallopia japonica (Houtt.) Ronse Decraene. J Ecol 82:959–979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bray J, Curtis J (1957) An ordination of the upland forest communities of Southern Wisconsin. Ecol Monogr 27:325–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brock J (2003) Eleagnus angustifolia (Russian olive) seed banks from invaded riparian habitats in northeastern Arizona. In: Child L, Brock J, Brundu G, Prach K, Pyšek P, Wade M, Williamson M (eds) Plant invasions: ecological threats and management solutions. Backhuys, Leiden, pp 267–276Google Scholar
  9. Brown R, Fridley J (2003) Control of plant species diversity and community invasibility by species immigration: seed richness versus seed density. Oikos 102:15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caffrey J (1994) Spread and management of Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant hogweed) along Irish river corridors. In: de Wall L, Child L, Wade MP, Brock J (eds) Ecology and management of invasive riverside plants. Wiley, Chicester, pp 67–76Google Scholar
  11. Caffrey J (1999) Phenology and long-term control of Heracleum mantegazzianum. Hydrobiologia 415:223–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarke K (1993) Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Aust J Ecol 18:117–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke K, Warwick R (2001) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation, 2nd edn. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  14. D’Antonio C (1993) Mechanisms controlling invasion of coastal plant communities by the alien succulent, Carpobrotus edulis. Ecology 74:83–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davis MA (2003) Biotic globalization: does competition from introduced species threaten biodiversity? Bioscience 53:481–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis MA (2009) Invasion biology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Dukes J, Mooney H (1999) Does global change increase the success of biological invaders? Trends Ecol Evol 14:135–139CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Eckert C (2002) The loss of sex in clonal plants. Evol Ecol 15:501–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Facelli J, Picket S (1991) Plant litter: its dynamics and effects on plant community structure. Bot Rev 57:2–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fenner M, Thompson K (2005) The ecology of seeds, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  21. Foster B, Gross K (1997) Partitioning the effects of plant biomass and litter on Andropogon gerardi in old field vegetation. Ecology 78:2091–2104Google Scholar
  22. Gioria M (2007) The impact of three invasive species on soil seed bank communities. Dissertation, University College DublinGoogle Scholar
  23. Gioria M, Osborne B (2008) The soil seed bank of two invasive species, Gunnera tinctoria and Heracleum mantegazzianum, in Ireland. In: Tokarska-Guzik B, Brock J, Brundu G, Child L, Daehler C, Pyšek P (eds) Plant invasions: human perception, ecological impacts and management. Backhuys, Leiden, pp 217–233Google Scholar
  24. Gioria M, Osborne B (2009a) Assessing the impact of plant invasions on soil seed bank communities: use of univariate and multivariate statistical approaches. J Veg Sci 20:547–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gioria M, Osborne B (2009b) The impact of Gunnera tinctoria Molina (Mirbel) on soil seed bank communities. J Plant Ecol 2:153–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grime J (2001) Plant strategies, vegetation processes, and ecosystem properties, 2nd edn. John Wiley, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Grime J, Hodgson J, Hunt R (2007) Comparative plant ecology: a functional approach to common British plants. Castlepoint, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Harper J (1977) The population biology of plants. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Harper J, Ogden J (1970) The reproductive strategy of higher plants: 1. The concept of strategy with special reference to Senecio vulgaris. J Ecol 58:681–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hejda M, Pyšek P, Jarošik V (2009) Impact of invasive plants on the species richness, diversity and composition of invaded communities. J Ecol 97:393–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hickey B (2002) Changes in community processes associated with the introduced and invasive species Gunnera tinctoria (Molina) Mirbel. Dissertation, University College DublinGoogle Scholar
  32. Hollingsworth M, Bailey J (2000) Evidence for massive clonal growth in the invasive weed Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed). Bot J Linn Soc 133:463–472Google Scholar
  33. Krinke L, Moravcová L, Pyšek P, Jaroik V, Pergl J, Perglová I (2005) Seed bank in an invasive alien Heracleum mantegazzianum and its seasonal dynamics. Seed Sci Res 15:239–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Legendre P, Legendre L (1998) Numerical ecology, 2nd edn. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  35. Levine J, Vilá M, D’Antonio C, Dukes J, Grigulis K, Lavorel S (2003) Mechanisms underlying the impacts of exotic plant invasions. Proc R Soc London B 270:775–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lonsdale WM (1992) The biology of Mimosa pigra. In: Harley KLS (ed) A guide to the management of Mimosa pigra. CSIRO, Canberra, pp 8–32Google Scholar
  37. Lonsdale WM (1999) Global patterns of plant invasions and the concept of invasibility. Ecology 80:1522–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lowe S, Browne M, Boudjelas S (2000) 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species. Aliens 12:supplementGoogle Scholar
  39. Mack R, Simberloff D, Lonsdale W, Evans H, Clout M, Bazzaz F (2000) Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecol Appl 10:689–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Manchester S, Bullock J (2000) The impacts of non-native species on UK biodiversity and the effectiveness of control. J Appl Ecol 37:845–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meiners SJ (2007) Native and exotic plant species exhibit similar population dynamics during succession. Ecology 88:1098–1104CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Osborne B, Sprent JI (2002) Ecology of the Gunnera-Nostoc symbiosis. In: Rai AN, Bergman B, Rasmussen U (eds) Cyanobacteria in symbiosis. Kluwer, The Netherlands, pp 233–251Google Scholar
  43. Osborne B, Doris F, Cullen A, McDonald R, Campbell G, Steer M (1991) Gunnera tinctoria: an unusual nitrogen-fixing invader. Bioscience 41:224–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pejchar L, Mooney HA (2009) Invasive species, ecosystem services and human well-being. Trends Ecol Evol 24:497–504CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Pompe S, Hanspach J, Badeck F, Klotz S, Thuiller W, Khn I (2008) Climate and land use change impacts on plant distributions in Germany. Biol Lett 4:564–567CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Pyšek P, Pyšek A (1995) Invasion by Heracleum mantegazzianum in different habitats in the Czech Republic. J Veg Sci 6:711–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pyšek P, Richardson DM (2007) Traits associated with invasiveness in alien plants: where do we stand? In: Nentwig W (ed) Biological invasions, ecological studies, vol 193. Springer, Berlin, pp 97–126Google Scholar
  48. Pyšek P, Perglová I, Krinke L, Jarosk V, Pergl J, Moravcová L (2007) Regeneration ability of Heracleum mantegazzianum and implications for control. In: Pyšek P, Cock M, Nentwig W, Ravn H (eds) Ecology and management of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). CAB, Oxfordshire, pp 112–125Google Scholar
  49. Rejmanek M (1996) A theory of seed plant invasiveness: the first sketch. Biol Conserv 78:171–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rejmanek M (2000) Invasive plants: approaches and predictions. Austral Ecol 25:497–506Google Scholar
  51. Richardson DM, Pyšek P (2006) Plant invasions: merging the concepts of species invasiveness and community invasibility. Prog Phys Geog 30:409–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sakai AK, Allendorf FW, Holt JS, Lodge DM, Molofsky J, With KA, Baughman S, Cabin RJ, McCauley JE, O’Neil P, Parker IM, Thompson JN, Weller SG (2001) The population biology of invasive species. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 32:305–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Salisbury E (1942) The reproductive capacity of plants: studies in quantitative biology. G. Bell, LondonGoogle Scholar
  54. Sax D, Kinlan B, Smith K (2005) A conceptual framework for comparing 24 species assemblages in native and exotic habitats. Oikos 108:457–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Simberloff D (1996) Impacts of introduced species in the United States. Consequences 2(2):13–22Google Scholar
  56. Templeton A, Levin D (1979) Evolutionary consequences of seed pools. Am Nat 114:232–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thompson K, Grime J (1979) Seasonal variation in seed banks of herbaceous species in ten contrasting habitats. J Ecol 67:893–921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Thompson K, Bakker J, Bekker R (1997) The soil seed banks of North West Europe: methodology, density and longevity. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  59. Thompson K, Bakker J, Bekker R, Hodgson J (1998) Ecological correlates of seed persistence in soil in the north-west European flora. J Ecol 86:163–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tiley G, Dodd F, Wade MP (1996) Heracleum mantegazzianum Sommier and Levier. J Ecol 84:297–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tilman D (1993) Species richness of experimental productivity gradients: how important is colonization limitation? Ecology 74:2179–2191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. van der Valk A, Davis C (1978) The role of seed banks in the vegetation dynamics of prairie glacial marshes. Ecology 59:322–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vanderhoeven S, Dassonville N, Meerts P (2005) Increased topsoil mineral nutrient concentrations under the canopy of exotic invasive plants in Belgium. Plant Soil 275:167–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Venable D, Brown J (1988) The selective interactions of dispersal, dormancy and seed size as adaptions for reducing risk in variable environments. Am Nat 131:360–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vilà M, Gimeno I (2007) Does invasion by an alien plant species affect the soil seed bank? J Veg Sci 18:423–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Vitousek P, Walker L, Whiteaker L, Muellerdombois D, Matson P (1987) Biological invasion by Myrica-Faya alters ecosystem development in Hawaii. Science 238:802–804CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Walker L, Smith S (1997) Impacts of invasive plants on community and ecosystem properties. In: Luken J, Thieret J (eds) Assessment and management of plant invasions. Springer, New York, pp 69–86Google Scholar
  68. Weber E (2003) Invasive plant species of the world. A reference guide to environmental weeds. BABI, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
  69. Williamson M (1996) Biological invasions. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  70. Xiong S, Johansson M, Hughes F, Hayes A, Richards K, Nilsson C (2003) Interactive effects of soil moisture, vegetation canopy, plant litter and seed addition on plant diversity in a wetland community. J Ecol 91:976–986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zobel M, Otsus M, Liira J, Moora M, Mols T (2000) Is small-scale species richness limited by seed availability or microsite availability? Ecology 81:3274–3282CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations