Biological facilitation of the giant tree fern Angiopteris evecta in the germination of the invasive velvet tree Miconia calvescens


Associated preprint: Yes - view in new tab

Abstract

Background. Biological facilitation is a type of relationship between two taxa that benefits at least one of the participants and harms neither. Although invasive species are widely known to compete with native taxa, recent studies suggest that invasive and native species can have positive relationships. This study aims to examine the biological facilitation of the germination of invasive Miconia calvescens by giant tree fern Angiopteris evecta, native to French Polynesia.

Methods. Field surveys were conducted to measure A. evecta and M. calvescens by applying the 10×10 m2 quadrat survey method. The density of seedlings, saplings, and mature plants of M. calvescens growing on the rhizomes of A. evecta and on bare soil was compared, and the correlation between the size of the rhizomes and the number of M. calvescens growing on them was verified. Two separate sets of nutrient measurements of substrates were performed to compare the nutrient of A. evecta rhizome and other abiotic and potential biotic environments. Leaf decomposition rate of five dominant plant species was compared to verify whether A. evecta has quickly decomposing leaves, and therefore induce the germination of M. calvescens indirectly.

Results. Field surveys show that there is a greater number of seedlings and saplings of M. calvescens growing on the rhizomes of A. evecta as compared to bare soil. Furthermore, there is a positive correlation between the size of rhizomes and the number of M. calvescens growing on them. Substrates of A. evecta had higher phosphorus and potassium contents compared to other soils and substrates, but the contents did not differ from bark of other tree species that could potentially offer favorable microenvironments. A. evecta has quickly decomposing leaves.

Discussion. A. evecta facilitates the germination of M. calvescens, supported by much higher number of seedlings and saplings growing on the rhizomes, and the positive correlation between the size of the rhizome and the number of M. calvescens growing on it. Microslopes on the rhizomes of A. evecta prevent leaf litter from accumulating on the rhizomes, and enable more sunlight to reach and facilitate the germination of M. calvescens seeds. Also, quickly decomposing leaves of A. evecta prevent the accumulation of leaf litter on the ground and enable more light to reach seed bank. Although the chemical components do not differ from other tree species, physical structure of the rhizome and consequent higher light availability, and higher amount of potassium than bare soil would be the possible reason of the facilitation. Biological facilitation of the germination of invasive M. calvescens by native A. evecta can give better understanding on invasion success and the relationship between the native and invasive species. Invasion of A. evecta can induce and promote further invasion of M. calvescens. Therefore, thorough management of ongoing invasion of A. evecta is particularly required.

Ask to review this manuscript

Notes for potential reviewers

  • Volunteering is not a guarantee that you will be asked to review. There are many reasons: reviewers must be qualified, there should be no conflicts of interest, a minimum of two reviewers have already accepted an invitation, etc.
  • This is NOT OPEN peer review. The review is single-blind, and all recommendations are sent privately to the Academic Editor handling the manuscript. That said, if the manuscript is accepted for publication then the reviewer reports can be optionally signed and made public (see below).
  • What happens after volunteering? It may be a few days before you receive an invitation to review with further instructions. You will need to accept the invitation to then become an official referee for the manuscript. If you do not receive an invitation it is for one of many possible reasons as noted above.

  • PeerJ does not judge submissions based on subjective measures such as novelty, impact or degree of advance. Effectively, reviewers are asked to comment on whether or not the submission is scientifically and technically sound and therefore deserves to join the scientific literature. Our Peer Review criteria can be found on the "Editorial Criteria" page - reviewers are specifically asked to comment on 3 broad areas: "Basic Reporting", "Experimental Design" and "Validity of the Findings".
  • Reviewers are expected to comment in a timely, professional, and constructive manner.
  • Until the article is published, reviewers must regard all information relating to the submission as strictly confidential.
  • When submitting a review, reviewers are given the option to "sign" their review (i.e. to associate their name with their comments). Otherwise, all review comments remain anonymous.
  • Each time a decision is made by the Academic Editor, each reviewer will receive a copy of the Decision Letter (which will include the comments of all reviewers).
  • If the article is accepted, then the authors are given the option to reproduce the reviewer reports, and their full revision history, alongside their finally published article. In those instances, the comments of the reviewers will be made public (although reviewers' names will never be revealed unless the reviewer opted to sign their review, as noted above).

If you have any questions about submitting your review, please email us at peer.review@peerj.com.