Patterns of loss of biodiversity associated with invasion by Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. monilifera (boneseed) across a large geographic region
To investigate the impact of invasion by Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera (boneseed) on plant communities, sites that were invaded and uninvaded were surveyed across Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria, Australia. Above-ground cover abundance was estimated and samples of the seed bank from invaded and uninvaded sites in each state were collected and germinated in the glasshouse. We compared species richness and composition between invaded and uninvaded sites for both above-ground and below-ground samples. Across this broad geographic area, C. monilifera invaded sites had 25% fewer species than uninvaded sites and twice as many exotic species. Most growth forms showed reduced richness in invaded sites. There were no differences in the composition of native species communities between invaded and uninvaded sites in most regions, except South Australia. The composition of the seed bank differed from the above-ground vegetation, but was similar within each state. Herbs and grasses were most abundant. The species composition of the seed bank was different in invaded sites only in Victoria, suggesting that invasion may negatively influence the capacity of the seed bank to restore vegetation in some areas. However, the underlying mechanisms for the observed patterns were not tested in this study. The capacity of all sites to regenerate effectively from the seed bank was limited and, in order to ensure the conservation of biodiversity into the future, monitoring of species richness at smaller scales, particularly those where management of C. monilifera has occurred, will be needed to ensure management can facilitate the establishment of missing species. This study suggests that C. monilifera impacts a range of functional groups and different species across its distribution and is therefore non-selective in how it influences changes in communities.