Publication Date

2012-07-17

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2012-07-17

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-06-28

First Committee Member

Steven M. Green

Second Committee Member

David P. Janos

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Richards

Abstract

Although invasive plant species are known to decrease biodiversity and adversely affect native plant communities, factors that contribute to invasiveness are still poorly understood. Arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM) are an important biotic factor in many ecosystems, but evidence conflicts regarding their effects on invasive plant success. Nine species from four confamilial groups of native and exotic ferns in southern Florida were examined to determine their extent of mycorrhizal colonization. The mycorrhizal status of three species (Pteris bahamensis, Thelypteris dentata, and Thelypteris kunthii) was determined for the first time. Significant differences in AM colonization were found among confamilial groups. No significant differences were found in the level of AM colonization between closely related native and exotic species, which suggests that evolutionary relationships better predict the level of AM colonization than whether a species is native or exotic. These findings also demonstrate that the exotic species tested were able to form relationships with AM fungi outside their native ranges.

Keywords

Biological invasions; Arbuscular mycorrhizas; Invasion ecology; Invasive species; Native ferns; Exotic ferns

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