The invasion of abandoned fields by a major alien tree filters understory plant traits in novel forest ecosystems

T. Sitzia, T. Campagnaro, David Johannes Kotze, S. Nardi, A. Ertani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The abandonment of agricultural use is a common driver of spontaneous reforestation by alien trees. The N-fixing black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) is a major alien invader of old fields in Europe. Here we show that canopy dominance by this tree may filter the frequency distribution of plant functional traits in the understory of secondary woodlands. Higher soil C/N ratio and available P are associated with black locust stands, while higher soil phenols associate with native tree stands. These environmental effects result in differences in understory flowering periods, reproduction types and life forms. Our findings emphasize the effect of a major alien tree on functional plant trait composition in the early stages of spontaneous reforestation of abandoned lands, implying the development of a novel forest ecosystem on a large geographical scale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8410
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number8410
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • LOCUST ROBINIA-PSEUDOACACIA
  • SOIL CHEMICAL-PROPERTIES
  • LAND-USE
  • CARBON SEQUESTRATION
  • FUNCTIONAL TRAITS
  • SPECIES TRAITS
  • CENTRAL-EUROPE
  • LOESS PLATEAU
  • COMMUNITIES
  • VEGETATION

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