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Above- and belowground herbivory alters the outcome of intra- and interspecific competition between invasive and native Alternanthera species

Abstract

Effects of herbivory on competition between invasive and native plants have seldom been examined from an above-belowground integrated perspective. We examined the interactions between a monophagous beetle, Agasicles hygrophila, or an oligophagous beetle, Cassida piperata, and a root-knot nematode on the intensity of intra- and interspecific interactions between the invasive Alternanthera philoxeroides and its native congener, Alternanthera sessilis. Plant-plant competition was assessed using the relative neighbour effect (RNE) index. Competitive effects (positive RNE indexes) from conspecifics for A. philoxeroides were detected under herbivory by A. hygrophila alone. The ramet number, stolon length, and/or the biomass of A. philoxeroides were reduced compared to plants without herbivory. The interactions between the two plants without herbivory were facilitative (negative RNE indexes), and the facilitative effect became stronger such that A. philoxeroides produced more biomass under combinative herbivory by C. piperata and the nematode. However, significant competitive effects from conspecifics were detected for A. sessilis under all the AG-BG herbivory treatments, while no apparent competitive or facilitative effects from A. philoxeroides were detected for A. sessilis under all the AG-BG herbivory treatments. These results suggest that intra- or interspecific competition of invasive and native plants can be greatly affected by AG-BG herbivory, and thus interactive effects of AG-BG herbivory and plant competition may influence invasive process of alien plants in the field.

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Data availability

Data are available in the electronic appendices and are also available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Yao Xiang, Zhongcai Ma, and Shunliang Feng for insect collection and experimental assistance. We especially thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. We would also like to thank Van Driesche Scientific Editing for editing of the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31800423), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi Province (2018GXNSFBA281172), and the Science Development Foundation of Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2021YT119).

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SS conceptualization, data manipulation, formal analysis, methodology, writing-original draft. WG data manipulation, software, investigation, writing-review and editing. XL project administration, funding acquisition, writing-review and editing, supervision.

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Correspondence to Xiaoqiong Li.

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Shen, S., Guo, W. & Li, X. Above- and belowground herbivory alters the outcome of intra- and interspecific competition between invasive and native Alternanthera species. Biol Invasions 24, 801–813 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02694-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02694-2

Keywords

  • Alligator weed
  • Biological invasions
  • Clonal plants
  • Herbivore
  • Relative neighbour effect
  • Interspecific interactions