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Invasional meltdown in multi-species plant communities


by University of Konstanz
Invasive alien plant species can pose a serious threat to native biodiversity and to human well-being. Identifying the factors that contribute to invasion success is therefore crucial. Previous studies on biological invasions have focused mainly on interactions between one alien and one native species, attributing invasion success to the superior competitive ability of the invading aliens. Very few experiments have examined them in multi-species plant communities.

A new experiment by ecologists based at the University of Konstanz and international collaborators addresses this research gap by considering competition among plants in communities composed of several plant species, both alien and native. The results, which appear in the latest issue of Nature Ecology and Evolution, pinpoint one major reason for invasion success and subsequent invasional meltdown to soil microbes, especially fungal endophytes.

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