North American and European grasslands consist of relatively young communities that have evolved under human influences. These communities are uniformly sensitive to top-down controls and exhibit rapid changes in plant composition when the intensity and frequency of these controls are altered. These changes are intensifying due to the suite of global change factors, including the continued presence and introduction of new plant species. Establishment of nonnative plant species into grasslands requires resource opportunities generated by natural and human-induced disturbances and by niche differences of the new species. Persistence and spatial expansion require that the traits of the introduced species be compatible with a new regime of competitors, predators, pathogens, and symbionts. Plant traits of the invaders may then further facilitate the invasion process by preempting resources or by restructuring the soil microbial community and trophic food web in ways that directly or indirectly benefit the invading species.
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Dec 1, 2011
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