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1 October 2017 Effects of Long-Term Manual Invasive Plant Removal on Forest Understory Composition
Heather Bowman Cutway
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Removal of invasive species is a common management goal to maintain native species composition and wildlife habitat. Due to the time and effort necessary to remove invasive species, it is important to clearly understand the benefits that will be gained through removal and what methods will best achieve those results. This study evaluated the response of native plant understory communities to the removal of invasive species that fell into a range of functional groups including perennial herbs (Microstegium vimineum, Liriope muscari), vines (Lonicera japonica, Lygodium japonicum, Hedra helix), shrubs (Ligustrum sinense), and trees (Albizia julibrissin, Triadica sebifera). Eight invasive plant species were removed from twenty-seven 1-m2 plots for 8 y in an upland mixed hardwood—pine and riverine woodland within the Ocmulgee National Monument, Macon, Georgia. Species richness, herbaceous cover, and woody species number was measured 2 y before removal and each year during removal. Mechanical removal reduced invasive species richness, cover, and number, however all measures of native species diversity remained unchanged. Overall, common species remained common but there was some turnover in less common species over the 8 y. During the study period, the area experienced an exceptional drought and it is likely that native species recovery after invasive species removal was hindered by these extreme weather conditions. Invasive species may be a determinant of native species composition, but environmental factors like drought may be a more important determining factor.

Heather Bowman Cutway "Effects of Long-Term Manual Invasive Plant Removal on Forest Understory Composition," Natural Areas Journal 37(4), 530-539, (1 October 2017).
Published: 1 October 2017
forest understory
invasive species
long-term research
mechanical control
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