Plant–soil feedbacks of exotic plant species across life forms: A meta-analysis

Annelein Meisner, W. H. Gera Hol, Wietse de Boer, Jennifer Adams Krumins, David A. Wardle, Wim H. van der Putten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Invasive exotic plant species effects on soil biota and processes in their new range can promote or counteract invasions via changed plant–soil feedback interactions to themselves or to native plant species. Recent meta-analyses reveale that soil influenced by native and exotic plant species is affecting growth and performance of natives more strongly than exotics. However, the question is how uniform these responses are across contrasting life forms. Here, we test the hypothesis that life form matters for effects on soil and plant–soil feedback. In a meta-analysis we show that exotics enhanced C cycling, numbers of meso-invertebrates and nematodes, while having variable effects on other soil biota and processes. Plant effects on soil biota and processes were not dependent on life form, but patterns in feedback effects of natives and exotics were dependent on life form. Native grasses and forbs caused changes in soil that subsequently negatively affected their biomass, whereas native trees caused changes in soil that subsequently positively affected their biomass. Most exotics had neutral feedback effects, although exotic forbs had positive feedback effects. Effects of exotics on natives differed among plant life forms. Native trees were inhibited in soils conditioned by exotics, whereas native grasses were positively influenced in soil conditioned by exotics. We conclude that plant life form matters when comparing plant–soil feedback effects both within and between natives and exotics. We propose that impact analyses of exotic plant species on the performance of native plant species can be improved by comparing responses within plant life form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2551-2561
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Alien plant species
  • Exotic plant species
  • Life form
  • Meta-analysis
  • Plant invasions
  • Plant–soil feedback
  • Plant–soil interactions
  • Soil legacies


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