Consequences of plant–soil feedbacks in invasion

K.N. Suding, W.S. Harpole, T. Fukami, A. Kulmatiski, A.S. MacDougall, C. Stein, W.H. van der Putten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


1. Plant species can influence soil biota, which in turn can influence the relative performance of plant species. These plant–soil feedbacks (PSFs) have been hypothesized to affect many community-level dynamics including species coexistence, dominance and invasion. 2. The importance of PSFs in exotic species invasion, although widely hypothesized, has been difficult to determine because invader establishment necessarily precedes invader-mediated PSFs. Here, we combine a spatial simulation model of invasion that incorporates PSFs with a meta-analysis that synthesizes published case studies describing feedbacks between pairs of native and exotic species. 3. While our spatial model confirmed the link between positive soil feedbacks (‘home’ advantage) for exotic species and exotic species spread, results were dependent on the initial abundance of the exotic species and the equivalence of dispersal and life history characteristics between exotic and native species. 4. The meta-analysis of 52 native–exotic pairwise feedback comparisons in 22 studies synthesized measures of native and exotic performance in soils conditioned by native and exotic species. The analysis indicated that the growth responses of native species were often greater in soil conditioned by native species than in soil conditioned exotic species (a ‘home’ advantage). The growth responses of exotic species were variable and not consistently related to species soil-conditioning effects. 5. Synthesis. Overlaying empirical estimates of pairwise PSFs with spatial simulations, we conclude that the empirically measured PSFs between native and exotic plant species are often not consistent with predictions of the spread of exotic species and mono-dominance. This is particularly the case when exotic species are initially rare and share similar dispersal and average fitness characteristics with native species. However, disturbance and other processes that increase the abundance of exotic species as well as the inclusion of species dispersal and life history differences can interact with PSF effects to explain the spread of invasive species
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-308
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • microbial community structure
  • acacia-longifolia
  • biota
  • restoration
  • pathogens
  • dynamics
  • ecology
  • accumulation
  • invasiveness
  • coexistence


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