Temporal dynamics of range-expander and congeneric native plant responses during and after extreme drought events

Qiang Yang, G.F. Veen, Roel Wagenaar, Marta Manrubia, Freddy ten Hooven, W.H. van der Putten

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is causing range shifts of many species to higher latitudes and altitudes and increasing their exposure to extreme weather events. It has been shown that range-shifting plant species may perform differently in new soil than related natives; however, little is known about how extreme weather events affect range-expanding plants compared to related natives. In this study we used outdoor mesocosms to study how range-expanding plant species responded to extreme drought in live soil from a habitat in a new range with and without live soil from a habitat in the original range (Hungary). During summer drought, the shoot biomass of the range-expanding plant community declined. In spite of this, in the mixed community, range expanders produced more shoot biomass than congeneric natives. In mesocosms with a history of range expanders in the previous year, native plants produced less biomass. Plant legacy or soil origin effects did not change the response of natives or range expanders to summer drought. During rewetting, range expanders had less biomass than congeneric natives but higher drought resilience (survival) in soils from the new range where in the previous year native plant species had grown. The biomass patterns of the mixed plant communities were dominated by Centaurea spp.; however, not all plant species within the groups of natives and of range expanders showed the general pattern. Drought reduced the litter decomposition, microbial biomass, and abundances of bacterivorous, fungivorous, and carnivorous nematodes. Their abundances recovered during rewetting. There was less microbial and fungal biomass, and there were fewer fungivorous nematodes in soils from the original range where range expanders had grown in the previous year. We concluded that in mixed plant communities of range expanders and congeneric natives, range expanders performed better, under both ambient and drought conditions, than congeneric natives. However, when considering the responses of individual species, we observed variations among pairs of congenerics, so that under the present mixed-community conditions there was no uniformity in responses to drought of range expanders versus congeneric natives. Range-expanding plant species reduced soil fungal biomass and the numbers of soil fungivorous nematodes, suggesting that the effects of range-expanding plant species can trickle up in the soil food web.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1529
Pages (from-to)e1529
JournalEcological Monographs
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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