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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2017

  • Title: Exotic earthworms and invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) impacts on native plant diversity
  • Author: Karina J Martinez (California State University (all campuses))
  • Abstract:

    Invaders in North American forests include a Eurasian duo; exotic earthworms and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Through its allelopathy mechanism, garlic mustard disrupts the relationships between mycorrhizal fungi and native plants. Earthworms facilitate the establishment of invasive species by reducing leaf litter and increasing nutrient availability. The invasional meltdown hypothesis states that positive interactions between two invasive species may facilitate invasions by impacting the success of native plants. Both allelopathic invasive plants and exotic earthworms can interact in the soil, thus intensifying changes in native plant communities. This study aims to answer the following questions: (1) Is there a relationship between plant diversity and earthworm density? (2) Is there a relationship between plant diversity and garlic mustard density? (3) Does earthworm biomass vary between experimental garlic mustard eradication treatments (invaded, non-invaded, hand pulled, and herbicide spraying (glyphosate, triclopyr, 2,4-D)? Preliminary results indicate that invaded control plots have higher earthworm mass than uninvaded plots and plots where garlic mustard has been manually pulled for four seasons. Studying the relationship between above and below ground invasive communities is important as it can enhance a better understanding of the ways invaders can interact and impact forest dynamics.

  • Research Category: Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens