Biological Invasions

, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 925–937

Ecology and ecosystem impacts of common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica): a review

  • Kathleen S. Knight
  • Jessica S. Kurylo
  • Anton G. Endress
  • J. Ryan Stewart
  • Peter B. Reich
Original Paper

Abstract

In this review, we synthesize the current knowledge of the ecology and impacts of Rhamnus cathartica L., a shrub from Europe and Asia that is a successful invader in North America. Physiological studies have uncovered traits including shade tolerance, rapid growth, high photosynthetic rates, a wide tolerance of moisture and drought, and an unusual phenology that may give R. cathartica an advantage in the environments it invades. Its high fecundity, bird-dispersed fruit, high germination rates, seedling success in disturbed conditions, and secondary metabolite production may also contribute to its ability to rapidly increase in abundance and impact ecosystems. R. cathartica impacts ecosystems through changes in soil N, elimination of the leaf litter layer, possible facilitation of earthworm invasions, unsubstantiated effects on native plants through allelopathy or competition, and effects on animals that may or may not be able to use it for food or habitat.

Keywords

Allelopathy Buckthorn Competition Dispersal Growth Invasive Nitrogen Reproduction Rhamnus cathartica 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen S. Knight
    • 2
  • Jessica S. Kurylo
    • 3
  • Anton G. Endress
    • 4
    • 5
  • J. Ryan Stewart
    • 4
  • Peter B. Reich
    • 6
  1. 1.USDA Forest Service Northern Research StationDelawareUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Division for Ecology and Conservation ScienceIllinois Natural History SurveyChampaignUSA
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  5. 5.Division of Biodiversity and Ecological EntomologyIllinois Natural History SurveyChampaignUSA
  6. 6.Department of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MinnesotaSt PaulUSA

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