Disturbance is one of the most important factors promoting exotic invasion. However, if disturbance per se is sufficient to explain exotic success, then "invasion" abroad should not differ from "colonization" at home. Comparisons of the effects of disturbance on organisms in their native and introduced ranges are crucial to elucidate whether this is the case; however, such comparisons have not been conducted. We investigated the effects of disturbance on the success of Eurasian native Centaurea solstitialis in two invaded regions, California and Argentina, and one native region, Turkey, by conducting field experiments consisting of simulating different disturbances and adding locally collected C. solstitialis seeds. We also tested differences among C. solstitialis genotypes in these three regions and the effects of local soil microbes on C. solstitialis performance in greenhouse experiments. Disturbance increased C. solstitialis abundance and performance far more in nonnative ranges than in the native range, but C. solstitialis biomass and fecundity were similar among populations from all regions grown under common conditions. Eurasian soil microbes suppressed growth of C. solstitialis plants, while Californian and Argentinean soil biota did not. We suggest that escape from soil pathogens may contribute to the disproportionately powerful effect of disturbance in introduced regions.
© 2006, University of Chicago Press. View original published article at 10.1086/505767.