Question: Does management intensity affect the association between non-native and native species and between non-native species and soil nutrients in wetlands?
Location: MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center, Florida, USA.
Methods: We evaluated native and non-native plant richness and relative frequency in 15 1-m2 plots in 40 wetlands across two types of pastures, highly managed (fertilized, ditched, planted, heavily grazed by cattle) and semi-natural (unfertilized, lightly seasonally grazed). Plant biomass was collected in five 0.25-m2 plots per wetland and sorted to species. Soil cores were collected to analyse soil total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). An information-theoretic approach was used to compare mixed effects models considering the association of non-native richness, relative frequency, and biomass with native richness, relative frequency, biomass, C3 grass relative frequency (a dominant native group), N, P and wetland-type.
Results: Non-native richness was negatively correlated with native richness in semi-natural wetlands, but there was no evidence of an association between these variables in highly managed wetlands. Non-native richness increased with increasing soil N in semi-natural wetlands, but not in the highly managed wetlands. Soil P was positively related to non-native frequency in semi-natural wetlands but negatively related in highly managed wetlands. Non-native frequency and biomass were negatively related to relative frequency of C3 grasses in both management types.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that management intensity influences relationships between native and non-native richness. Management intensity interacts with abiotic or biotic factors, such as soil nutrients and composition, in predicting where non-native species will most likely need control.