Location: Livestock and Range Research LaboratoryTitle: An exotic grass disrupts mycorrhizal fungi which increases the mortality of Artemisia tridentata
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Invasive plant species are capable of changing the community composition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Changes to AMF communities may contribute to the net negative impact of invasives on resident plants. Here we compared the AMF communities of the invasive grass Agropyron cristatum across six randomly selected sites where it has dominated for ca. 70 yrs to the AMF communities of eight common plant species from three sites of mixed-grass prairie vegetation and six additional sites with Artemisia tridentata in the Northern Great Plains. We used field experiments to test whether degraded AMF communities increased the mortality of Artemisia tridentata seedlings. The richness of AMF communities associated with seven of nine dominant plant species were greater than the AMF communities associated with A. cristatum. The percentage of roots colonized by AMF was also greater for eight of nine resident mixed-grass prairie species than A. cristatum. Treatments that disrupted AMF communities increased the mortality of Artemisia tridentata seedlings. These findings support our interpretation that persistent stands of A. cristatum are likely generating soil legacy effects that contribute to the persistence of A. cristatum and that limit species turnover back to mixed-grass prairie vegetation. These findings have important implications for the Applied Ecology of numerous areas already dominated by A. cristatum and refining restoration strategies for ongoing sage-grouse habitat restoration and energy development across the Northern Great Plains.