2016. január 21., csütörtök

Kelemen et al. (2016) Applied Vegetation Science

Kelemen, A., Valkó, O., Kröel-Dulay, Gy., Deák, B., Török, P., Tóth, K., Miglécz, T., Tóthmérész, B. (2016): The invasion of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) in sandy old-fields – Is it a threat to the native flora? Applied Vegetation Science, doi: 10.1111/avsc.12225

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) is an invasive ‘super species’ that has invaded extensive areas in Europe, forming novel ecosystems. One study has reported neutral effects of common milkweed on the native flora of sand dune grasslands in Hungary after the removal of invasive pine plantation. However, the effects of common milkweed on native flora more generally are unknown. Focusing on the potential effect of milkweed, we tested the following hypotheses: (1) the cover of native grassland species decreases with increasing cover of common milkweed; and (2) native species with low specific leaf area (SLA), height, seed mass and clonal spreading ability (i.e. low competitive ability) are more likely suppressed by milkweed compared with natives with high competitive ability.

Late successional sandy old-fields invaded by milkweed in the Great Hungarian Plain (Kiskunság, central Hungary).

We recorded the cover of vascular plants in seven old-fields; in each old-field we sampled 12 plots including plots with different milkweed cover and control plots without milkweed. We used linear mixed effect models for exploring the effects of milkweed on the species richness and cover of native grassland species. To identify the common traits of the most affected native species, we used trait-based analyses; we studied leaf–height–seed traits and clonal spreading ability.

We detected no effect of common milkweed on total species richness, but it had a negative effect on the cover of grassland species. The negative effect of common milkweed was most pronounced on the cover of species with low SLA, low seed mass and low clonal spreading ability.

Our results suggest that native, late successional sandy grasslands invaded by common milkweed form undesirable novel ecosystems because of significant negative impacts on the cover of native grassland species, especially those species with low competitive ability. For these species, management of milkweed might be needed to ensure their persistence in sandy grasslands in this landscape.

Clonal spreading, Competition, Functional traits, Novel ecosystem, Old-field, Plant invasion, Sandy vegetation, Seed mass, Specific leaf area

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