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The influence of soil feedback and plant traits on competition between an invasive plant and co-occurring native and exotic species

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Title: The influence of soil feedback and plant traits on competition between an invasive plant and co-occurring native and exotic species
Author: Poon, Gary
Department: Department of Integrative Biology
Program: Integrative Biology
Advisor: Maherali, Hafiz
Abstract: The mechanisms that allow invasive species to flourish in novel habitats are poorly understood. A. petiolata (Alliaria petiolata) is an invader of North American forest edge and understory communities. A. petiolata’s success may result from high competitive ability due to its suppression of mycorrhizal fungi used by other species. In a greenhouse experiment, I grew 27 target species in the presence and absence of A.petiolata in soil with and without a history of A. petiolata. I found that soil with a history of A. petiolata had depleted plant available nitrogen and reduced mycorrhizal fungal colonization of target species. A. petiolata competition suppressed the growth of target species less in soils with than without A. petiolata history. Furthermore, I found that tall plants with finer roots more effectively suppressed the growth of A. petiolata. My results suggest that soil feedback effects do not improve A. petiolata’s competitive ability and are unlikely to contribute to A. petiolata invasion.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/2862
Date: 2011-07
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