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Euonymus fortunei dominance over native species may be facilitated by plant–soil feedback


Positive plant–soil feedback (PSF) may be a mechanism of invader dominance, whereas PSF is often negative for native species. Previous work in Eastern deciduous forests of North America has shown that the invasive liana Euonymus fortunei participates in a net positive PSF with native groundcover Asarum canadense, indicating that PSF may contribute to invader dominance. However, to identify PSF as a general invasion driver for Euonymus, we must consider the average net pairwise feedback for multiple native–invasive species pairs, and compare this to the average net pairwise feedback amongst native–native pairs. Here, we test E. fortunei in net pairwise feedback against five native species, comparing native–invader feedback to feedback amongst natives over a gradient of light availability. PSF was on average neutral for invader–native pairs and on average negative for native–native pairs, indicating that Euonymus does not face the same constraints that limit the growth of native species. Because even neutral feedback can facilitate invasion, results indicate that PSF may facilitate invader dominance over a broad range of native functional groups and light conditions in Eastern deciduous forest.

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This research was supported by a Senior Research Grant from the Indiana Academy of Science. Thanks to Jim Bever for assistance with net pairwise feedback statistical analyses. Thanks to the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation department and Indiana University Research and Teaching Preserve for allowing soil collections on their properties. Thanks to Therese Burkhard and Gerald Smith for field and greenhouse assistance, and to the Indiana University greenhouse staff for assistance with experimental setup and maintenance.

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Correspondence to Lauren M. Smith.

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Communicated by Scott J Meiners.

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Smith, L.M., Reynolds, H.L. Euonymus fortunei dominance over native species may be facilitated by plant–soil feedback. Plant Ecol 216, 1401–1406 (2015).

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  • Net pairwise plant–soil feedback
  • Invasion mechanism
  • Eastern deciduous forest