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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #349345

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Grain and Biomass Cropping Systems using a Landscape-Based GxExM Approach

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Invasive plants affect prairie soil biology

Author
item Unger, Irene - Westminster College
item Kremer, Robert - University Of Missouri
item Goyne, Keith - University Of Missouri
item Veum, Kristen

Submitted to: Missouri Prairie Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2018
Publication Date: 3/15/2018
Citation: Unger, I., Kremer, R.J., Goyne, K.W., Veum, K.S. 2018. Invasive plants affect prairie soil biology. Missouri Prairie Journal. 39(1):18-22.

Interpretive Summary: Non-native or exotic plants often cause ecological and environmental damage in ecosystems where they invade and become established. These invasive plants may be the most serious threat to plant diversity in prairies, especially those in scattered remnants, which may be particularly vulnerable to rapid invasion from agricultural fields, woodlots, and other disturbed sites bordering prairies within the same landscape. Interactions of invasive plants with native prairie species have been examined in depth with the aim of developing strategies to minimize or eliminate their impacts on plant diversity and biological functioning in the prairie ecosystem. The relationships of invasive plants with the soil microbial community in prairie ecosystems have received considerably less attention and are often overlooked in management planning. We determined the extent of the impacts of an invasive plant species by characterizing soil biological properties in a remnant prairie, two reconstructed prairies, and an unmanaged old-field site in central Missouri. The native prairie exceeded the other sites on claypan soils in supporting diverse soil microbial communities based on phospholipid fatty acid characterization and in higher soil health indicator values. Despite the apparent successful above-ground restoration of native plants at the reconstructed prairie sites, below-ground restoration of the soil microbial community and other soil properties is only in initial stages. The interactions of soil edaphic factors including soil temperature and moisture, pH, and nutrient contents with invasive plants should be evaluated more in depth as these factors may influence soil biology as much or more than the plant. Overall this study emphasizes the importance of monitoring soil health indicators in prairies and sites undergoing restoration or reconstruction that have diverse histories including present or previous stands of invasive plants. Such information would be valuable in guiding management decisions for these sites.

Technical Abstract: Non-native or exotic plants often cause ecological and environmental damage in ecosystems where they invade and become established. These invasive plants may be the most serious threat to plant diversity in prairies, especially those in scattered remnants, which may be particularly vulnerable to rapid invasion from agricultural fields, woodlots, and other disturbed sites bordering prairies within the same landscape. Interactions of invasive plants with native prairie species have been examined in depth with the aim of developing strategies to minimize or eliminate their impacts on plant diversity and biological functioning in the prairie ecosystem. The relationships of invasive plants with the soil microbial community in prairie ecosystems have received considerably less attention and are often overlooked in management planning. We determined the extent of the impacts of an invasive plant species by characterizing soil biological properties in a remnant prairie, two reconstructed prairies, and an unmanaged old-field site in central Missouri. The native prairie exceeded the other sites on claypan soils in supporting diverse soil microbial communities based on phospholipid fatty acid characterization and in higher soil health indicator values. Despite the apparent successful above-ground restoration of native plants at the reconstructed prairie sites, below-ground restoration of the soil microbial community and other soil properties is only in initial stages. The interactions of soil edaphic factors including soil temperature and moisture, pH, and nutrient contents with invasive plants should be evaluated more in depth as these factors may influence soil biology as much or more than the plant. Overall this study emphasizes the importance of monitoring soil health indicators in prairies and sites undergoing restoration or reconstruction that have diverse histories including present or previous stands of invasive plants. Such information would be valuable in guiding management decisions for these sites.