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    Many systems are prone to both exotic plant invasion and frequent natural disturbances. Native species richness can buffer the effects of invasion or disturbance when imposed in isolation, but it is largely unknown whether richness provides substantial resistance against invader impact in the face of disturbance. We experimentally examined how disturbance (drought/burning) influenced the impact of three exotic invaders (Centaurea stoebe, Linaria dalmatica, or Potentilla recta) on native abundance across a gradient of species richness, using previously constructed grassland assemblages. We found that invaders had higher cover in experimentally disturbed plots than in undisturbed plots across all levels of native species richness. Although exotic species varied in cover, all three invaders had significant impacts on native cover in disturbed plots. Regardless of disturbance, however, invader cover diminished with increasing richness. Invader impacts on native cover also diminished at higher richness levels, but only in undisturbed plots. In disturbed plots, invaders strongly impacted native cover across all richness levels, as disturbance favoured invaders over native species. By examining these ecological processes concurrently, we found that disturbance exacerbated invader impacts on native abundance. Although diversity provided a buffering effect against invader impact without disturbance, the combination of invasion and disturbance markedly depressed native abundance, even in high richness assemblages.

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    Pinto, Sarah M.; Ortega, Yvette K. 2016. Native species richness buffers invader impact in undisturbed but not disturbed grassland assemblages. Biological Invasions. 18: 3193-3204.


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    diversity, drought, exotic plants, fire, invasion

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