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Reductions in grassland species evenness increase dicot seedling invasion and spittle bug infestation


  • Editor, D. Wardle

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Previous experiments that tested whether diverse plant communities have lower invasibility have all varied species richness. We experimentally varied evenness of four grassland species (three grasses and one forb) by planting a field experiment in Texas, and monitored the number of unplanted dicot and monocot species that invaded plots for two growing seasons. By varying evenness, we eliminated any sampling effect in our diversity treatment, because all plots contained the same plant species. Experimentally reducing evenness led to a greater number of dicot invaders, which emerged in plots throughout the growing season, but had less of an effect on monocot invaders, which emerged in flushes when experimental plants were semi-dormant. Frequency of Solidago canadensis (altissima) stems with spittle bugs significantly increased with reductions in evenness during the first year, apparently because the greater number of Solidago stems in high evenness plots diluted the spittle-bug effect. These results support the view that higher diversity plant communities are more resistant to dicot invaders and insect herbivores.