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New Phytol. 2008;177(3):706-14. Epub 2007 Nov 27.

Altered ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycles by plant invasion: a meta-analysis.

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Coastal Ecosystems Research Station of Yangtze River Estuary, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, The Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.


Plant invasion potentially alters ecosystem carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles. However, the overall direction and magnitude of such alterations are poorly quantified. Here, 94 experimental studies were synthesized, using a meta-analysis approach, to quantify the changes of 20 variables associated with C and N cycles, including their pools, fluxes, and other related parameters in response to plant invasion. Pool variables showed significant changes in invaded ecosystems relative to native ecosystems, ranging from a 5% increase in root carbon stock to a 133% increase in shoot C stock. Flux variables, such as above-ground net primary production and litter decomposition, increased by 50-120% in invaded ecosystems, compared with native ones. Plant N concentration, soil NH+4 and NO-3 concentrations were 40, 30 and 17% higher in invaded than in native ecosystems, respectively. Increases in plant production and soil N availability indicate that there was positive feedback between plant invasion and C and N cycles in invaded ecosystems. Invasions by woody and N-fixing plants tended to have greater impacts on C and N cycles than those by herbaceous and nonN-fixing plants, respectively. The responses to plant invasion are not different among forests, grasslands, and wetlands. All of these changes suggest that plant invasion profoundly influences ecosystem processes.

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