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Keywords:

  • Buddleja davidii;
  • Coriaria arborea;
  • Diversity;
  • Facilitation;
  • N:P stoichiometry;
  • Nutrient accumulation;
  • Primary succession;
  • Soil nutrient

Abstract. Question: How do Coriaria arborea, an N-fixing native shrub, and Buddleja davidii, a non-N-fixing exotic shrub, affect N:P stoichiometry in plants and soils during early stages of primary succession on a flood-plain?

Location: Kowhai River Valley, northeast South Island, New Zealand.

Methods: We measured soil and foliar nutrient concentrations, light levels, plant community composition and the above-ground biomass of Coriaria and Buddleja in four successional stages: open, young, vigorous and mature.

Results: Coriaria occurred at low density but dominated above-ground biomass by the vigorous stage. Buddleja occurred at 5.3 ± 1.0 stems/m2 in the young stage and reached a maximum biomass of 520–535 g.m-2 during the young and vigorous stages. Mineral soil N increased with above-ground Coriaria biomass (r2= 0.45), but did not vary with Buddleja biomass. In contrast, soil P increased with Buddleja biomass (r2= 0.35), but not with Coriaria biomass. In early successional stages, 70–80% of the species present were exotic, but this declined to about 15% by the mature stage. Exotic plant species richness declined with increasing Coriaria biomass, but no other measures of diversity varied with either Coriaria or Buddleja biomass.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate that Buddleja dominates early succession and accumulates P whereas Coriaria dominates later succession and accumulates N. A key ecosystem effect of the invasive exotic Buddleja is alteration of soil N:P stoichiometry.