Symbiotic fungi promote invasion into diverse plant communities (Rudgers et al.)

December 10, 2003

The biodiversity of a community can affect its functional properties, such as its productiveness or its ability to resist invasion by exotic species. Many grass species host fungi in their leaves that can render them more resistant to herbivory, drought, and competition. In a forthcoming issue of Ecology Letters, Rudgers, Koslow and Clay investigated whether these endophytic fungi can modify how diverse communities resist invasion. Their model predicts that endophyte-infection of a grass invader will weaken the ability of diverse communities to resist invasion and reduce the correlation between diversity and community productivity. Their long-term field experiment using invasive tall fescue grass confirms this model, demonstrating that endophytic fungi contribute more to the dynamics of plant communities than previously supposed.
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Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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