Diversity declines in Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass) patches


S. Adams, K.A.M. Engerhardt

Publication Date:
Jan 2009

The spread of invasive plant species and their impacts on plant communities have received international attention as global trade and global environmental change enhance the colonization and establishment of introduced species and threaten the integrity of native ecosystems. Because introduced species vary in their impact, studying the relationship between invasion and native communities is necessary to guide allocation of finite management resources. By studying adjacent pairs of invaded and uninvaded plots across an eastern United States forested landscape, we demonstrate Microstegium vimineum was associated with local declines in species richness and cover of native species. Negative impacts of M. vimineum on species richness did not emerge until August when M. vimineum cover and height were greatest, highlighting the value of following study subjects through the growing season. In contrast, native species cover was already lower in invaded plots early in the growing season. M. vimineum invasion was not the only important driver of species richness and community composition within the study region; abiotic environmental gradients, such as soil nitrate concentration and pH, across the six study sites were also important in affecting species richness and cover, but lessened in explanatory power through the growing season. We conclude that M. vimineum has effects on community structure that may have long-term consequences for biodiversity. Studies which track sites through time and consider multiple scales are required as invaders impact multiple biotic and abiotic factors operating at different spatial and temporal scales.

Type of Document:

Journal Article

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the full text.

Web Page Link:

Adams, S., and K. A. M. Engelhardt. 2009. Diversity declines in Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass) patches. Biological Conservation 142(5): 1003-1010.