We established an experiment designed to compare effects of Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass) on seedlings of three native hardwood species to investigate the hypothesis that competitive effects of M. vimineum on juvenile trees will vary across different tree species. Growth and survival of Acer rubrum, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Quercus rubra first-year seedlings were compared in plots with and without M. vimineum in three planting beds under 50 percent shade. The tree species studied are abundant and of particular interest in the Central Hardwood Region. A. rubrum and L. tulipifera seedlings experienced reduced growth in several foliar characteristics in the presence of M. vimineum. Q. rubra did not exhibit any differences in foliar characteristics between plots with and without M. vimineum, however there was a reduction in Q. rubra stem weight as a result of the presence of M. vimineum. The differential responses of A. rubrum, L. tulipifera, and Q. rubra to the presence of M. vimineum observed in this study support the hypothesis that effects of this exotic species will vary across tree species. As a result of reductions in the growth of A. rubrum and L. tulipifera, the presence of M. vimineum in forest understories may reduce the rate at which seedlings of these species are recruited into larger size classes.
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