Interactions between seedlings of the invasive tree Ailanthus altissima and the native tree Robinia pseudoacacia under low nutrient conditions
The allelopathic effect of A. altissima and the nitrogen fixing ability of R. pseudoacacia make the interaction between these two species important to community dynamics. A replacement series greenhouse experiment was used to investigate the type of interaction between seedlings of A. altissima and R. pseudoacacia at high and low soil nutrition states. Also, seeds of A. altissima from its native (China) and invasive ranges (USA) were used to compare the effect of the different seed sources on the interaction with R. pseudoacacia. Robinia pseudoacacia was the better competitor. The presence of A. altissima significantly inhibited nodulation of R. pseudoacacia roots. In summary, in low nutrient early succession sites, seedlings of R. pseudoacacia and A. altissima will coexist and R. pseudoacacia will be the better competitor. However, A. altissima can increase its competitive ability by inhibiting nitrogen fixation by R. pseudoacacia. Differences between the competitive ability of the Chinese and US seed lots of A. altissima did not support the rapid evolution theory for invasive species success.