Alien and endangered plants in the Brazilian Cerrado exhibit contrasting relationships with vegetation biomass and N : P stoichiometry


Author for correspondence:

Luciola S. Lannes

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  • Although endangered and alien invasive plants are commonly assumed to persist under different environmental conditions, surprisingly few studies have investigated whether this is the case. We examined how endangered and alien species are distributed in relation to community biomass and N : P ratio in the above-ground community biomass in savanna vegetation in the Brazilian Cerrado.
  • For 60 plots, we related the occurrence of endangered (Red List) and alien invasive species to plant species richness, vegetation biomass and N : P ratio, and soil variables.
  • Endangered plants occurred mainly in plots with relatively low above-ground biomass and high N : P ratios, whereas alien invasive species occurred in plots with intermediate to high biomass and low N : P ratios. Occurrences of endangered or alien plants were unrelated to extractable N and P concentrations in the soil.
  • These contrasting distributions in the Cerrado imply that alien species only pose a threat to endangered species if they are able to invade sites occupied by these species and increase the above-ground biomass and/or decrease the N : P ratio of the vegetation. We found some evidence that alien species do increase above-ground community biomass in the Cerrado, but their possible effect on N : P stoichiometry requires further study.