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Transgenerational soil-mediated differences between plants experienced or naïve to a grass invasion.

  • Author(s): Deck, Anna
  • Muir, Adrianna
  • Strauss, Sharon
  • et al.

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Invasive species may undergo rapid change as they invade. Native species persisting in invaded areas may also experience rapid change over this short timescale relative to native populations in uninvaded areas. We investigated the response of the native Achillea millefolium to soil from Holcus lanatus-invaded and uninvaded areas, and we sought to determine whether differential responses between A. millefolium from invaded (invader experienced) and uninvaded (invader naïve) areas were mediated by soil community changes. Plants grown from seed from experienced and naïve areas responded differently to invaded and uninvaded soil with respect to germination time, biomass, and height. Overall, experienced plants grew faster and taller than their naïve counterparts. Naïve native plants showed negative feedbacks with their home soil and positive feedbacks with invaded soil; experienced plants were less responsive to soil differences. Our results suggest that native plants naïve to invasion may be more sensitive to soil communities than experienced plants, consistent with recent studies. While differences between naïve and experienced plants are transgenerational, our design cannot differentiate between differences that are genetically based, plastic, or both. Regardless, our results highlight the importance of seed source and population history in restoration, emphasizing the restoration potential of experienced seed sources.

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