Facilitation and inhibition of seedlings of an invasive tree (Acer platanoides) by different tree species in a mountain ecosystem

K. O. Reinhart, Fernando T. Maestre, Ragan M. Callaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Facilitation is known to be an important process structuring natural plant communities. However, much less is known about its role in facilitating the invasion of ecosystems by non-native plant species. In this study we evaluated the effects of invasive (Acer platanoides) and native (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forest types on the performance of A. platanoides seedlings, and related these effects to structural and functional properties associated with the two forest types, in a native P. menziesii forest that is being invaded by A. platanoides. Acer platanoidesseedlings had higher densities, recruitment, and survival, and experienced less photoinhibition and water stress when beneath conspecific canopies than in the adjacent P. menziesii forest. Soil moisture and canopy cover were greater in the invaded patch than the native forest. There was no difference in soil fertility or understory light levels between locations. These demographic (i.e. seedling survival), physiological, and environmental differences appeared to be due to the effects of A. platanoides and P. menziesii trees. Thus, Acer trees appear to produce a more mesic environment by modifying the structure and phenology of the forest canopy and by altering the timing of transpirational water loss relative to P. menziesii. Environmental modification by invaders that lead to positive effects on conspecifics may help us to understand the dramatic success and lag periods of some invasive species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-240
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Acer platanoides
  • Ecosystem-level changes
  • Facilitation
  • Invasion resistance
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii


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