Pinus contorta Alters Microenvironmental Conditions and Reduces Plant Diversity in Patagonian Ecosystems

Garcia, Rafael A.; Fuentes-Lillo, Eduardo; Cavieres, Lohengrin; Cobar-Carranza, Ana J.; Davis, Kimberley T.; Naour, Matias; Nunez, Martin A.; Maxwell, Bruce D.; Lembrechts, Jonas J.; Pauchard, Anibal


Pinus contorta is considered one of the most invasive tree species worldwide, generating significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. In several Patagonian ecosystems in southern Chile, it has escaped from plantations established mainly in the 1970s, and is now invading both forests and treeless environments. In this study, we evaluated the impact of the invasion of P. contorta on microenvironmental conditions in Araucaria araucana forest and Patagonian steppe ecosystems, and assessed how these changes related to the richness and abundance of native and non-native plant species. In each ecosystem, 24 plots of 100 m(2) were established along a gradient of P. contorta biomass, where 18 environmental variables and the composition of native and non-native vegetation were measured at a local scale. Our results indicated that increased pine biomass was associated with differences in microclimatic conditions (soil and air temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and soil moisture) and soil properties (potassium, nitrate, pH, and litter accumulation). These changes were ecosystem dependent, however, as well as associated with the level of invasion. Finally, the reduction in the richness and abundance of native plants was associated with the changes in soil properties (accumulation of leaf litter, pH, and organic matter) as well as in the microclimate (minimum air temperature, PAR) generated by the invasion of P. contorta. Overall, our results confirm that the invasion of P. contorta impacts microenvironmental conditions (i.e., canopy cover, litter accumulation, minimum air temperature, and maximum soil temperature) and reduces native plant diversity. For future restoration plans, more emphasis should be given to how environmental changes can influence the recovery of invaded ecosystems even after the removal of the living pine biomass (i.e., legacy of the invasion).

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Título según WOS: ID WOS:000958081900001 Not found in local WOS DB
Título de la Revista: DIVERSITY-BASEL
Volumen: 15
Número: 3
Editorial: MDPI
Fecha de publicación: 2023


Notas: ISI