Interactions between two co-dominant, invasive plants in the understory of a temperate deciduous forest

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Negative interactions between non-indigenous and native species has been an important research topic of invasion biology. However, interactions between two or more invasive species may be as important in understanding biological invasions, but they have rarely been studied. In this paper, we describe three field experiments that investigated interactions between two non-indigenous plant species invasive in the eastern United States, Lonicera japonica (a perennial vine) and Microstegium vimineum (an annual grass). A press removal experiment conducted within a deciduous forest understory community indicated that M. vimineum was a superior competitor to L. japonica. We tested the hypothesis that the competitive success of M. vimineum was because it overgrew, and reduced light available to, L. japonica, by conducting a separate light gradient experiment within the same community. Shade cloth that simulated the M. vimineum canopy reduced the performance of L. japonica. In a third complementary experiment, we added experimental support hosts to test the hypothesis that the competitive ability of L. japonica is limited by support hosts, onto which L. japonica climbs to access light. We found that the abundance of climbing branches increased with the number of support hosts. Results of this experiment indicate that these two invasive species compete asymmetrically for resources, particularly light.

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Analysis of Variance


General Linear Model


Multivariate Analysis of Variance with Repeated Measures


Oak Ridge Environmental Research Park


photosynthetic photon flux density


Relative Competition Index


time domain reflectometry


volumetric water content


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Correspondence to R. Travis Belote.

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Belote, R.T., Weltzin, J.F. Interactions between two co-dominant, invasive plants in the understory of a temperate deciduous forest. Biol Invasions 8, 1629–1641 (2006).

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  • competition
  • invasional meltdown
  • invasive species
  • Lonicera japonica
  • Microstegium vimineum
  • non-indigenous species