The Legacy of Plant Invasions: Changes in the Soil Seed Bank of Invaded Plant Communities


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Abstract

Assessing the legacy of plant invasions on resident plant communities requires a thorough understanding of changes occurring in the aboveground vegetation as well as in the soil seed bank. Because seed banks represent a memory of past and present vegetation and largely regulate the regenerative potential of species reproducing by seed, knowledge of the impact of plant invasions on the seed bank is essential to predict future population and community dynamics. Here, we review this knowledge and how it may contribute to understanding the relationship between the seed bank and the aboveground vegetation. We discuss how changes in the seed bank may be a symptom of habitat degradation, reducing the resistance of resident communities to primary invasions, and/or a driver promoting secondary invasions. Finally, we describe some of the major issues characterizing seed-bank studies in invasion ecology and outline the most promising research directions.

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