Functional richness and identity do not strongly affect invasibility of constructed dune communities
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© 2017 Mason et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Biotic effects are often used to explain community structure and invasion resistance. We evaluated the contribution of functional richness and identity to invasion resistance and abiotic resource availability using a mesocosm experiment. We predicted that higher functional richness would confer greater invasion resistance through greater resource sequestration. We also predicted that niche pre-emption and invasion resistance would be higher in communities which included functional groups similar to the invader than communities where all functional groups were distinct from the invader. We constructed communities of different functional richness and identity but maintained constant species richness and numbers of individuals in the resident community. The constructed communities represented potential fore dune conditions following invader control activities along the Australian east coast. We then simulated an invasion event by bitou (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata DC. Norl.), a South African shrub invader. We used the same bitou propagule pressure across all treatments and monitored invasion success and resource availability for 13 months. Contrary to our predictions, we found that functional richness did not mediate the number of bitou individuals or bitou cover and functional identity had little effect on invasion success: there was a trend for the grass single functional group treatment to supress bitou individuals, but this trend was obscured when grasses were in multi functional group treatments. We found that all constructed communities facilitated bitou establishment and suppressed bitou cover relative to unplanted mesocosms. Abiotic resource use was either similar among planted communities, or differences did not relate to invasion success (with the exception of light availability). We attribute invasion resistance to bulk plant biomass across planted treatments rather than their functional group arrangement.
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