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DOI

Apart from relatively well-studied aboveground effects, invasive plant species will also impact the soil food web. So far, most research has been focusing on primary decomposers, while studies on effects at higher trophic levels are relatively scarce. Giant goldenrod Solidago gigantea, native to North America, is a widespread and common invasive species in most European countries. We investigated its impact on plant communities and on multiple trophic levels of the soil food web in two contrasting habitats: riparian zones and semi-natural grasslands. In 30 pairs of invaded and uninvaded plots, floristic composition, pH, fungal biomass and the densities of 11 nematode taxa were determined by using a quantitative PCR-based method. In the two habitats, the invader outcompeted both rare and dominant plant species. Belowground, S. gigantea invasion reduced pH, increased overall fungal biomass as well as the density of a single lineage of fungivorous nematodes, the family Aphelenchoididae. The densities of two other, phylogenetically distinct lineages of fungivorous nematodes, Aphelenchidae and Diphtherophoridae, were unaffected by the local increase in fungal biomass. Apparently this plant species induces a local asymmetric boost of the fungal community, and only Aphelenchoididae were able to benefit from this invader-induced change. The alternative explanation - the results are explained by a subtle, S. gigantea - induced 0.1-0.2 units decrease of pH - seems unlikely, as pH optima for nematode taxa are relatively broad. Thus, apart from readily observable aboveground effects, the invasive plant species S. gigantea affects fungal biomass as well as a specific part of the fungivorous nematode community in a soil type-independent manner. [KEYWORDS: EXOTIC PLANT INVASIONS NEMATODE COMMUNITIES ALIEN PLANTS ERGOSTEROL BIOTA DIVERSITY BIODIVERSITY EXTRACTION CANADENSIS FEEDBACKS]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-845
JournalOikos
Volume123
Issue number7
DOI
StatePublished - 2014

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