Invasive plant species commonly have negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functions but may also provide suitable nesting habitat for wildlife. Imperata cylindrica (Cogongrass) is a widespread invasive plant in the southeastern US that creates dense stands with heights that can exceed 1.5 m. During a long-term project monitoring tick hosts in native and Cogongrass-invaded mixed pine–hardwood forests in Florida, we incidentally observed nests of Meleagris gallopavo (Wild Turkey) in Cogongrass-invaded but not uninvaded areas. Invaded areas exhibited significantly taller understory vegetation, greater herbaceous plant cover and biomass, and lower daily maximum temperatures (∼3 °C cooler) at ground level. Research on nest success and the commonness of this phenomenon is needed, but our observations suggest that the structure of Cogongrass-invaded plant communities may provide an alternative nesting substrate for Wild Turkeys.
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Vol. 20 • No. 1