The effect of Celastrus orbiculatus, oriental bittersweet, on the herbaceous layer along a western North Carolina creek

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jenny Rebecca Browder (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://www.wcu.edu/404.asp
Advisor
Greg Adkison

Abstract: Nonnative, invasive plants such as Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb. (Oriental bittersweet) threaten the biodiversity of areas they invade. I examine bittersweet’s effect on the diversity, richness, and total abundance of the herbaceous layer of Dingle Creek in western North Carolina and its effect on the abundance of several native species found along Dingle Creek: Phlox stolonifera, Viola sororia, Arisaema triphyllum, and Thelypteris noveboracensis. I selected an area in this floodplain where bittersweet appeared to be encroaching but was not dominant to establish a transect of paired quadrats. A pair was defined as one quadrat with bittersweet and one quadrat without bittersweet. Abundance of all species in the herbaceous layer was measured as percent cover and as number of rooted shoots in each quadrat. I found that bittersweet is negatively affecting the community. Specifically, quadrats containing bittersweet had lower richness, diversity, and total abundance compared to quadrats without the invasive plant. Nearly a third of the species sampled were absent from quadrats with bittersweet. Also, one of the four populations I examined, T. noveboracensis, was less abundant in bittersweet quadrats relative to quadrats without bittersweet. These results, along with the abundance of young individuals of bittersweet in the floodplain and the dominance of bittersweet in areas where it has apparently been long established, all suggest that this species's highly developed morphological and physiological adaptations may allow it to eventually dominate this site.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Language: English
Date: 2011
Keywords
abundance, Celastrus orbiculatus, diversity, invasive species, oriental bittersweet, richness
Subjects
Celastrus orbiculatus -- Ecology -- North Carolina -- Biltmore Forest
Plant invasions -- North Carolina -- Biltmore Forest