Authors:A. Catorci, S. Cesaretti, R. Gatti, and G. Ottaviani
The present research deals with the impact of the invasive species Brachypodium genuense in central Apennine meadows. The study compares meadows under different management types (mown versus abandoned). B. genuense spread in the abandoned condition alters the ecological status of the site. It lowers soil temperature, moisture and pH, while it increases soil C/N ratio and litter production. In terms of biotic features, phenological analysis indicated that the abandoned condition is less rich in flowering species and individuals in each analysed date. We observed a less affected temporal niche (during the first phase of B. genuense leaf growth) and two strongly influenced phases (in early spring and in correspondence with phases when B. genuense flowers and has full growth of leaves). Functional trait analysis indicated that species with runners, ability to form patches, and late flowering strategies benefit from B. genuense spread, whereas species marked by storage organs, small size, and early flowering strategies benefit in the mown condition. However, it seems that only low frequency species are heavily threatened, while the others can remain inside the plant community by shelter niche occupation.