Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1509–1520 | Cite as

Canopy gaps facilitate establishment, growth, and reproduction of invasive Frangula alnus in a Tsuga canadensis dominated forest

Original Paper


The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the exotic, invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), is more abundant in canopy gaps created by logging than in uncut forests. Secondary objectives were to determine whether buckthorn abundance in gaps is related to gap size, and whether or not buckthorn exhibits advanced regeneration. The abundance of glossy buckthorn was estimated in five patch cuts and three single-tree cuts in a 90 year old eastern hemlock–eastern white pine–sweet birch forest at the Woodman Horticultural Farm in Durham, NH, USA. Glossy buckthorn was 96 times more abundant in logged areas than in uncut control plots. The three largest but youngest gaps (>0.08 ha; 5 years old) had the greatest proportion of tall (>2 m), reproductively mature glossy buckthorn individuals, with 18.4% fruiting. The older, medium-sized gaps (ca. 0.03 ha; 10 years old) contained the highest overall densities of glossy buckthorn, but few stems were flowering (~2%) and none were fruiting at the time of sampling. Small gaps (<0.01 ha; 10 years old) appeared to be sinks for glossy buckthorn, as all individuals were <0.5 m tall and none were >4 years old. As age and size of gaps were correlated, it was difficult to determine which factor played a larger role in the establishment and persistence of glossy buckthorn. However, the greater proportion of individuals >2 m tall and greater reproductive vigor of glossy buckthorn in large gaps relative to small gaps—despite fewer years available for growth—suggest that larger disturbances lead to more resources available for buckthorn growth, survival, and reproduction. Individuals <0.5 m tall were observed in uncut control plots at low density (<30 stems/ha) and 5% of stems in large gaps were older than the gaps themselves, suggesting that gap formation released previously established glossy buckthorn individuals (i.e., advanced regeneration).


Exotic invasive plant Frangula alnus Canopy gap Competition Advanced regeneration Tsuga canadensis forest New England New Hampshire Logging Disturbance 



Absolute basal area


Diameter at breast height


Relative basal area



We thank Chelsea Cunard, Rachael Johnson, Antoinette Hartgerink, Kristina Vagos, and Seth Wile for their help and hard work in the field and laboratory, and for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Russell Orzechowski also helped with field work. We are indebted to two anonymous reviewers whose clear and specific suggestions greatly improved the paper. The UNH Office of Woodlands and Natural Areas gave permission to use the study areas and provided background information about the sites. Donald Quigley also provided important historical information about logging in the study area. Thanks to Karen Bennett for providing information about silviculture in New England. Funding was provided by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (to K.M.B.) from the University of New Hampshire Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, and by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station (McIntire-Stennis 52) and United States Department of Agriculture CSREES National Research Initiative grant number 2006-55320-17210.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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