Reduced plant–soil feedback of plant species expanding their range as compared to natives

R.H.A. Van Grunsven, W.H. Van der Putten, T.M. Bezemer, W.L.M. Tamis, F. Berendse, E.M. Veenendaal

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    1. As a result of global warming, species may spread into previously cool regions. Species that disperse faster than their natural enemies may become released from top-down control. We investigated whether plants originating from southern Europe and recently established in north-western Europe experience less soil pathogen effects than native species. 2. We selected three plant species originating from southern Europe that have immigrated into the Netherlands and three similar native Dutch species. All six plant species were grown in sterilized soils with a soil inoculum collected from the rhizospheres of field populations. As a control we grew a series of all six plant species with a sterilized rhizosphere inoculum. 3. We harvested the plants, added the conditioned soil to sterilized soil and grew a second generation of all six plant species in order to test for each plant pair feedback effects from the conditioned soil communities to conspecifics and heterospecifics. 4. The effect of the soil community is dependent on plant species, and is dependent on soil fertility in only one of the three pairs. 5. Soil conditioning caused less biomass reduction to exotic plant species than to native species, suggesting that exotic immigrants are less exposed to soil pathogens than similar native plant species. 6. Our results suggest that plant species that expand their range as a result of climate change may become released from soil pathogenic activity. Whether the exotics are released from soil pathogens, or whether they experience enhanced benefit from mutualistic symbionts remains to be studied. We conclude that range expansion may result in enemy release patterns that are similar to artificially introduced invasive exotic plant species. 7. The escape from enemies through range shifts changes key biotic interactions and complicates predictions of future distribution and dominance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1050-1057
    JournalJournal of Ecology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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