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Soil biota are composed of the animals, plants and microorganisms that interact and share resources and nutrients in the soil. When an invasive species is introduced to this complex web of soil interactions, plants and other biota can exhibit chemical or physical change and potentially inhibit or enhance growth of plant species. By testing five native tree species in a black box experiment, we can see if there is a change in biomass in above ground (AG) or below ground (BG) structures of the tree between invaded soils - which previously hosted an invasive grass, Microstegium vimineum - and native soils that experienced no invasion. There were 6 soils to be tested - from three field sites that held both a native and invaded soil - along with a control soil, resulting in 7 total trial conditions. Invaded soils were found to have significantly more biomass in their aboveground growth through stems and leaves. All of the trials in invaded soils found a higher mean leaf mass than in the native soils trials. We can conclude that the invaded species is altering the biota in the soil. This change could be in nutrient uptake, physical distribution, or chemical interactions of the soil biota. While we don’t know the specific mechanisms behind this, we do know that native tree species will experience more aboveground biomass in soils that experienced invasion, than in soils that did not experience invasion.
invasive species; microstegium; biomass distribution; plant soil feedback; feedback systems
Natural Resources and Conservation
Lee, Bethany; Koenig, Kimberly; and Emery, Sarah PhD, "Soils Associated with the Invasive Grass: Microstegium vimineum Increases Growth of Native Trees" (2021). Undergraduate Arts and Research Showcase. 51.