Interannual climate variability mediates changes in carbon and nitrogen pools caused by annual grass invasion in a semiarid shrubland.

Global Change Biology
Adam L MahoodJeanne C Chambers

Abstract

Exotic plant invasions alter ecosystem properties and threaten ecosystem functions globally. Interannual climate variability (ICV) influences both plant community composition (PCC) and soil properties, and interactions between ICV and PCC may influence nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) pools. We asked how ICV and non-native annual grass invasion covary to influence soil and plant N and C in a semiarid shrubland undergoing widespread ecosystem transformation due to invasions and altered fire regimes. We sampled four progressive stages of annual grass invasion at 20 sites across a large (25,000 km2 ) landscape for plant community composition, plant tissue N and C, and soil total N and C in 2013 and 2016, which followed 2 years of dry and wet conditions, respectively. Multivariate analyses and ANOVAs showed that in invasion stages where native shrub and perennial grass and forb communities were replaced by annual grass-dominated communities, the ecosystem lost more soil N and C in wet years. Path analysis showed that high water availability led to higher herbaceous cover in all invasion stages. In stages with native shrubs and perennial grasses, higher perennial grass cover was associated with increased soil C and N, while in annual-dom...Continue Reading

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