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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2009

  • Title: Regional, Historical, and Environmental Variation in Alliaria petiolata Occurrence in Western Massachusetts
  • Primary Author: Kristina Stinson (University of Massachusetts - Amherst )
  • Additional Authors: Dunbar Carpenter (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at the National Zoo)
  • Abstract:

    The goal of this study is to determine the historical, geographic, and environmental effects on the distribution of an invasive plant (Alliaria petiolata) in Western Massachusetts. We surveyed 175 roadside, forested plots, across the two ecoregions, and across areas with wooded and cleared pre-introduction land cover. Results show that A. petiolata has a higher occurrence in the Berkshire Valley than in the Connecticut Valley that cannot be accounted for by environmental differences between the ecoregions. Pre-introduction land use history does not appear to have a significant effect on A. petiolata distribution at the regional scale. Latitude and precipitation stands out as important environmental variables, as each is negatively correlated with A. petiolata occurrence. These findings lead to the general conclusion that in addition to ecological factors, the historical geography of an invasion is an important consideration in studying plant invasions at the regional scale.

  • Research Category: Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens