Does tallgrass prairie restoration enhance the invasion resistance of post-agricultural lands?
Foster, Bryan L.; Houseman, Gregory R.; Hall, David R.; Hinman, Sarah E. 2015. Does tallgrass prairie restoration enhance the invasion resistance of post-agricultural lands? Biological Invasions, December 2015, vol. 17:no. 12:pp 3579-3590
There is building interest in the use of ecological restoration to enhance the biotic invasion resistance of disturbed lands. However, few studies have rigorously examined the effect of community restoration on biotic invasion resistance under conditions of controlled invader propagule pressure. Results are presented from a field experiment conducted in a post-agricultural grassland in eastern Kansas to explore the interplay of tallgrass prairie restoration and invader propagule pressure in modulating plant invasion. Seed additions of multiple native and non-native species were used to provide a general test of biotic invasion resistance under varied propagule availability. Restoration increased plant diversity, increased above ground productivity, reduced the availability of light, soil moisture and bare soil microsites and strongly suppressed the invasion of all species sown into the experiment, including the highly invasive exotic legume, Lespedeza cuneata. In the absence of restoration, L. cuneata rapidly dominated plots where it had been sown, particularly at the highest propagule pressure. Results of multiple regression modelling suggested that restoration most likely increased community resistance to L. cuneata invasion through changes in functional guild composition rather than through changes in species diversity. Overall our study indicates that restoration of abandoned agricultural land to native tallgrass prairie can enhance invasion resistance in the face of substantial invader propagule pressures by altering community composition to dominance by native species that are efficient in utilizing resources.