, Volume 139, Issue 3, pp 359-375

The invasive shrub, Lonicera maackii , reduces growth and fecundity of perennial forest herbs

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Abstract

Effects of invasive plant species on native plant species are frequently assumed or inferred from comparisons, but rarely quantified experimentally. Such quantification is important to assessing risks and impacts of invasives. We quantified the effects of Lonicera maackii, an exotic shrub invasive in many eastern North American forests, on survival, growth, and reproduction of three perennial herbs: Allium burdickii, Thalictrum thalictroides , and Viola pubescens. We predicted that the spring ephemeral, A. burdickii , would be most impacted, due to early leaf expansion of L. maackii. Field experiments were carried out in two deciduous forest stands, one (Gregg’s Woodlot, GW) disturbed and the other (Western Woods, WW) relatively undisturbed. In each stand, individual herbs were transplanted into a blocked design of 60 plots where L. maackii was present, absent, or removed, and monitored for 5 growing seasons. Lonicera maackii did not affect survival of transplants, but reduced growth and final size of individuals of all three species. For two of the species, A. burdickii and V. pubescens, L. maackii reduced the proportion of live plants flowering in both stands, and reduced the seed or fruit number per flowering individual in GW. For T. thalictroides the proportion flowering was not affected, but seed number per flowering plant was reduced by L. maackii in both stands. For all three species, cumulative seed production over the course of the study was reduced by L. maackii. Overall, effects on the spring ephemeral, A. burdickii, were similar to effects on the other herbs. Because mortality of these established individuals was not affected, short-term studies might conclude forest herbs are unaffected by invasive shrubs. However, the growth and reproduction impacts documented here suggest that populations are impacted in the long-term.