Above- and below-ground responses of native and invasive prairie grasses to future climate scenarios

TitleAbove- and below-ground responses of native and invasive prairie grasses to future climate scenarios
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDuell, EB, Wilson, GT, Hickman, KR
Pagination471 - 479
Accession NumberKNZ001771
KeywordsBothriochloa ischaemum, Bromus imermis, Climate change, Invasive species, Pascopyrum smithii, Schizachyrium scoparium

More intense and frequent droughts, coupled with elevated temperatures, are projected for grasslands worldwide. Although it has been suggested that alterations in temperature and precipitation will increase the success of biological invasions, studies that combine these climate change scenarios are limited. These changes in climate may increase the success of non-native, invasive plant species directly, as these species often possess traits that are favored by variable climates, or indirectly through negative impacts on native vegetation or alterations in soil microbial communities, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. The goal of our research was to assess above- and below-ground production and mycorrhizal fungal abundance of functionally similar native and invasive non-native grass species under projected climate-change scenarios. We assessed plant biomass, intra-radical AM root colonization, and relative abundance of extra-radical fungal biomass of two native (Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash, Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á.Löve) and two invasive (Bothriochloa ischaemum (L.) Keng, Bromus inermis Leyss.) grass species subjected to increased temperature and decreased soil water availability. Regardless of temperature or soil moisture, the invasive grasses in our study displayed greater seedling growth as compared with paired native species. Invasive grasses were also generally characterized by greater intra-radical colonization by AM fungi, compared with native species. Our data suggest that invasive grasses will continue to be problematic and successfully out-compete native grasses following increased temperatures and reduced water availability, as projected by climate-change models.