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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2009

  • Title: Ready or not, garlic mustard is moving in: Alliaria petiolata in North American forests
  • Primary Author: Vikki Rodgers (Boston University)
  • Additional Authors: Adrien Finzi (Boston University); Kristina Stinson (University of Massachusetts - Amherst )
  • Abstract:

    Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a non-native, shade tolerant forb that has successfully invaded the understory of eastern US forests. It was first discovered in North America in 1868 and is currently spreading at a rate of 6,400 km2 year-1. The addition to and domination of this new species in eastern forests of North America is already causing a variety of ecological changes. Invasions of garlic mustard can decrease the abundance of native species and the diversity of understory plant communities, alter forest regeneration, and interfere with native community-level interactions. While tremendous insights into the biology of garlic mustard have helped us to understand many aspects of this species’ success in North America, it still remains unclear exactly why and how garlic mustard dominates habitats only in its introduced range. Here we review the ecological impacts of garlic mustard invasion on eastern US forests. We link the spread of this species to specific biological mechanisms in an interdisciplinary approach to explain the success of this new member of eastern forests.

  • Research Category: Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens