Invasive Plants And Soil Communities

The proliferation of invasive plants intonative ecosystems is a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning on a global scale; a disturbance predicted to become more severe in the 21st century. To offset the adverse effects of invasive plants on ecosystem function and overall health, a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms by which plant invaders alter ecological communities and networks is essential. This research examined the effects of invasive plants on soil communities in urban woodlands. Here, I adopted a multidisciplinary framework, which included a combination of meta-analyses, field experimentation, and Next-Generation DNA sequencing to profile soil microbial communities. In short, my research findings show that invasive plants can severely alter the function and structure of woodland soil communities, with the effect being stronger for soil microflora (i.e. fungi) than higher trophic levels (i.e. predators).

PUBLICATIONS:

McCary, M.A., M. Zellner, and D.H. Wise. 2019. The role of plant-mycorrhizal mutualisms in deterring plant invasions: Insights from an individual-based model. Ecology and Evolution 9: 2018-2030.

McCary, M.A., R. Mores, M. Farfan, and D.H. Wise. 2016. Invasive plants have different effects on trophic structure of green and brown food webs in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Ecology Letters 19: 328-335.

McCary, M.A. 2016. Evaluating the Impacts of Invasive Plants on the Forest-floor Food Web (Ph.D. Thesis). The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

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