Plant–soil biota interactions and spatial distribution of black cherry in its native and invasive ranges


present address: Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.

Department of Biology, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA 17870, USA


One explanation for the higher abundance of invasive species in their non-native than native ranges is the escape from natural enemies. But there are few experimental studies comparing the parallel impact of enemies (or competitors and mutualists) on a plant species in its native and invaded ranges, and release from soil pathogens has been rarely investigated. Here we present evidence showing that the invasion of black cherry (Prunus serotina) into north-western Europe is facilitated by the soil community. In the native range in the USA, the soil community that develops near black cherry inhibits the establishment of neighbouring conspecifics and reduces seedling performance in the greenhouse. In contrast, in the non-native range, black cherry readily establishes in close proximity to conspecifics, and the soil community enhances the growth of its seedlings. Understanding the effects of soil organisms on plant abundance will improve our ability to predict and counteract plant invasions.