Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    Gunnera tinctoria invasions increase, not decrease, earthworm abundance and diversity
    Invasive plants often modify soil biotic communities through changes in soil physicochemical characteristics or the amount and/or quality of litter inputs. We assessed the impacts of Gunnera tinctoria invasions on soil and the earthworm community, on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland. We compared replicated (n = 5) areas invaded by G. tinctoria with uninvaded semi-natural grasslands, as well as with areas subjected to mechanical removal or herbicide treatment. Modifications in physiochemical properties included lower soil temperatures and higher soil pH during the summer in invaded areas, yet little effect on C and N stocks, or soil moisture. Marked differences in litter were observed, however, with invaded areas having c. 20-fold higher (above-ground) litter input than uninvaded ones, as well as lower C:N ratio (17 vs. 29). This was associated with a significantly higher overall abundance and biomass of earthworms in invaded plots (375 individuals m–2, 115 g biomass m–2), compared to the uninvaded control (130 individuals m–2, 45 g biomass m–2), with removal treatments having intermediate values. Earthworm communities comprised 10 species, typical for Irish grasslands, dominated by the common endogeic species Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Aporrectodea rosea. Both earthworm species richness and Shannon diversity were significantly higher in invaded areas, but only in spring samples. Based on this new information, plant invaders may increase the abundance and diversity of earthworms, mainly due to much larger litter inputs, increased soil pH and possibly lower soil temperatures in the summer typical of Irish grasslands.
      38Scopus© Citations 3
  • Publication
    Post-Invasion Recovery of Plant Communities Colonised by Gunnera tinctoria after Mechanical Removal or Herbicide Application and its Interaction with an Extreme Weather Event
    The interventions that are required for both the control and post-invasion restoration of native plant communities depends on several factors, including the efficacy of the measures that are used and how these interact with environmental factors. Here, we report on the results of an experiment on the effects of mechanical removal and herbicide application on the invasive plant Gunnera tinctoria and how an extreme weather event impacted on the invader and on the recovery of native coastal grassland communities. Both removal protocols were largely effective in eradicating mature plants, but the mechanical removal treatment resulted in a major increase in the number of G. tinctoria seedlings, which was exacerbated by the extreme event. Nine months after removal, the number of native species had recovered to c. 80% of that in uninvaded grasslands. In contrast to seedlings, mature plants of G. tinctoria showed a significant reduction in above-ground production after the extreme weather event, although these had largely recovered after six months. Overall, our results indicate that post-control restoration of the plant community may be possible without further significant management interventions. Nevertheless, since some invasive plants survived, further monitoring is required to ensure that recolonisation does not occur.
      52Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    The Effect of Cutting and Waterlogging on Plant-Related CO2 and N2O Fluxes Associated with the Invasive N-Fixing Species Gunnera tinctoria
    The overall impact that plant invasions have on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by plant-mediated effects and how these interact with environmental and management factors is largely unknown. To address this, we report on the effects of leaf removal and waterlogging, either singularly or in combination, on the fluxes of CO2 and N2O associated with the invasive species Gunnera tinctoria. Both the removal of leaves with and without flooding resulted in higher CO2 emissions due to reductions in photosynthesis. Whilst waterlogging alone was also associated with a reduction in photosynthesis, this was slower than the effect of leaf removal. Significant N2O emissions were associated with intact plants, which increased immediately after leaf removal, or seven days after waterlogging with or without leaf removal. We found positive correlations between CO2 and N2O emissions and petiole and rhizome areas, indicating a size-dependent effect. Our results demonstrate that intact plants of G. tinctoria are a source of N2O emissions, which is enhanced, albeit transiently, by the removal of leaves. Consequently, management interventions on invasive plant populations that involve the removal of above-ground material, or waterlogging, would not only reduce CO2 uptake, but would further compromise the ecosystem GHG balance through enhanced N2O emissions.
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