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Impact of an invasive alien plant on litter decomposition along a latitudinal gradient

(2018) ECOSPHERE. 9(1).
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Abstract
Invasive alien plant effects on ecosystem functions are often difficult to predict across environmental gradients due to the context-dependent interactions between the invader and the recipient communities. Adopting a functional trait-based framework could provide more mechanistic predictions for invasive species' impacts. In this study, we contrast litter decomposition rates among communities with and without the invasive plant Impatiens glandulifera in five regions along a 1600 km long latitudinal gradient in Europe. Across this gradient, four functional traits, namely leaf dry matter content (LDMC), specific leaf area (SLA), stem-specific density (SSD), and plant height, are correlated to rates of litter decomposition of standardized rooibos (labile), green tea (recalcitrant), and I. glandulifera litter. Our results show that both invaded and non-invaded plant communities had a higher expression of acquisitive traits (low LDMC and SSD, high SLA) with increasing temperature along the latitudinal gradient, partly explaining the variation in decomposition rates along the gradient. At the same time, invasion shifted community trait composition toward more acquisitive traits across the latitudinal gradient. These trait changes partly explained the increased litter decomposition rates of the labile litter fraction of rooibos and I. glandulifera litter in invaded communities, a shift that was most evident in the warmer study regions. Plant available nitrogen was lower in invaded communities, likely due to high nutrient uptake by I. glandulifera. Meanwhile, the coldest study region was characterized by a reversed effect of invasion on decomposition rates. Here, community traits related to low litter quality and potential allelopathic effects of the invader resulted in reduced litter decomposition rates, suggesting a threshold temperature at which invader effects on litter decomposition turn positive. This study therefore illustrates how functional trait changes toward acquisitive traits can help explain invader-induced changes in ecosystem functions such as increased litter decomposition.
Keywords
ecosystem function, functional traits, Impatiens glandulifera, invasive alien species, latitudinal gradient, leaf dry matter content, litter decomposition, plant available nitrogen, specific leaf area, stem-specific density, tea bag index, HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE, IMPATIENS-GLANDULIFERA, FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY, ECOSYSTEM PROPERTIES, ECONOMICS SPECTRUM, ABIOTIC DRIVERS, SPECIES TRAITS, METAANALYSIS, COMMUNITIES, SUCCESSION

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Citation

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Chicago
Helsen, Kenny, Stuart W Smith, Jörg Brunet, Sara AO Cousins, Pieter De Frenne, Adam Kimberley, Annette Kolb, et al. 2018. “Impact of an Invasive Alien Plant on Litter Decomposition Along a Latitudinal Gradient.” Ecosphere 9 (1).
APA
Helsen, Kenny, Smith, S. W., Brunet, J., Cousins, S. A., De Frenne, P., Kimberley, A., Kolb, A., et al. (2018). Impact of an invasive alien plant on litter decomposition along a latitudinal gradient. ECOSPHERE, 9(1).
Vancouver
1.
Helsen K, Smith SW, Brunet J, Cousins SA, De Frenne P, Kimberley A, et al. Impact of an invasive alien plant on litter decomposition along a latitudinal gradient. ECOSPHERE. 2018;9(1).
MLA
Helsen, Kenny, Stuart W Smith, Jörg Brunet, et al. “Impact of an Invasive Alien Plant on Litter Decomposition Along a Latitudinal Gradient.” ECOSPHERE 9.1 (2018): n. pag. Print.
@article{8547955,
  abstract     = {Invasive alien plant effects on ecosystem functions are often difficult to predict across environmental gradients due to the context-dependent interactions between the invader and the recipient communities. Adopting a functional trait-based framework could provide more mechanistic predictions for invasive species' impacts. In this study, we contrast litter decomposition rates among communities with and without the invasive plant Impatiens glandulifera in five regions along a 1600 km long latitudinal gradient in Europe. Across this gradient, four functional traits, namely leaf dry matter content (LDMC), specific leaf area (SLA), stem-specific density (SSD), and plant height, are correlated to rates of litter decomposition of standardized rooibos (labile), green tea (recalcitrant), and I. glandulifera litter. Our results show that both invaded and non-invaded plant communities had a higher expression of acquisitive traits (low LDMC and SSD, high SLA) with increasing temperature along the latitudinal gradient, partly explaining the variation in decomposition rates along the gradient. At the same time, invasion shifted community trait composition toward more acquisitive traits across the latitudinal gradient. These trait changes partly explained the increased litter decomposition rates of the labile litter fraction of rooibos and I. glandulifera litter in invaded communities, a shift that was most evident in the warmer study regions. Plant available nitrogen was lower in invaded communities, likely due to high nutrient uptake by I. glandulifera. Meanwhile, the coldest study region was characterized by a reversed effect of invasion on decomposition rates. Here, community traits related to low litter quality and potential allelopathic effects of the invader resulted in reduced litter decomposition rates, suggesting a threshold temperature at which invader effects on litter decomposition turn positive. This study therefore illustrates how functional trait changes toward acquisitive traits can help explain invader-induced changes in ecosystem functions such as increased litter decomposition.},
  articleno    = {e02097},
  author       = {Helsen, Kenny and Smith, Stuart W and Brunet, J{\"o}rg and Cousins, Sara AO and De Frenne, Pieter and Kimberley, Adam and Kolb, Annette and Lenoir, Jonathan and Ma, Shiyu and Michaelis, Jana and Plue, Jan and Verheyen, Kris and Speed, James DM and Graae, Bente J},
  issn         = {2150-8925},
  journal      = {ECOSPHERE},
  keyword      = {ecosystem function,functional traits,Impatiens glandulifera,invasive alien species,latitudinal gradient,leaf dry matter content,litter decomposition,plant available nitrogen,specific leaf area,stem-specific density,tea bag index,HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE,IMPATIENS-GLANDULIFERA,FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY,ECOSYSTEM PROPERTIES,ECONOMICS SPECTRUM,ABIOTIC DRIVERS,SPECIES TRAITS,METAANALYSIS,COMMUNITIES,SUCCESSION},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {15},
  title        = {Impact of an invasive alien plant on litter decomposition along a latitudinal gradient},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2097},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2018},
}

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