Removal of invasive shrubs alters light but not leaf litter inputs in a deciduous forest understory

Margot Wilkinson Kaye, Christopher M. Hone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The establishment and spread of non-native, invasive shrubs in forests poses an important obstacle to natural resource conservation and management. This study assesses the impacts of the physical removal of a complex of woody invasive shrub species on deciduous forest understory resources. We compared leaf litter quantity and quality and understory light transmittance in five pairs of invaded and removal plots in an oak-dominated suburban mature forest. Removal plots were cleared of all non-native invasive shrubs. The invasive shrubs were abundant (143,456 stems/ha) and diverse, dominated by species in the genera Ligustrum, Viburnum, Lonicera, and Euonymus. Annual leaf litter biomass and carbon inputs of invaded plots were not different from removal plots due to low leaf litter biomass of invasive shrubs. Invasive shrub litter had higher nitrogen (N) concentrations than native species; however, low biomass of invasive litter led to low N inputs by litter of invasive species compared to native. Light transmittance at the forest floor and at 2 m was lower in invaded plots than in removal plots. We conclude that the removal of the abundant invasive shrubs from a native deciduous forest understory did not alter litter quantity or N inputs, one measure of litter quality, and increased forest understory light availability. More light in the forest understory could facilitate the restoration of forest understory dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-625
Number of pages9
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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