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      Do dense layers of invasive plants elevate the foraging intensity of small mammals in temperate deciduous forests? A case study from Pennsylvania, USA

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      NeoBiota

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Monospecific stands of invasive plants can dramatically restructure habitat for fauna, thereby elevating population densities or promoting foraging of consumer species who benefit in the altered habitat. For example, dense stands of invasive plants may protect small mammals from predators, which in turn could increase foraging pressure on seeds that small mammals feed upon. We used a before-after, control-impact experimental design to test whether small mammal capture rates were higher and giving-up densities (GUDs) lower beneath dense stands of Berberis thunbergii, an invasive shrub with a rapidly expanding range throughout eastern North America. Our experimental design included three plot categories: 1) plots heavily invaded by B. thunbergii, 2) control plots lacking invasive shrub cover, and 3) invaded plots where we eradicated B. thunbergii midway through the study. Although our overall small mammal capture rate was low, small mammal captures were 65% higher in B. thunbergii invaded habitat relative to control plots and eradication lowered capture rates by 77%. GUDs were also 26% higher within B. thunbergii relative to control plots and eradication decreased GUDs by 65%. Our findings suggest that small mammals perceive dense stands of B. thunbergii as relatively safe foraging habitat. Prior surveys within our study locations revealed dramatically depressed tree seedling densities under B. thunbergii, thus invasive plants may promote intensive foraging by small mammals and reduce recruitment for species with foraged seeds or seedlings.

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          A meta-analysis of impacts of alien vs. native plants on pollinator visitation and reproductive success of co-flowering native plants.

          Alien plant species can alter pollinator visitation and, in turn, the sexual reproduction of natives. Using a conventional and a phylogenetically controlled meta-analytical approach on a data set of 40 studies, we evaluated the effect of alien neighbour plant species (aliens) on visitation to and reproduction of native co-flowering focal species (focals), and compared such effect to that of native neighbours (natives). An overall significantly negative effect of aliens on visitation to and reproduction of focals was confirmed. Interestingly, aliens differed from natives in their effect on visitation, but not on reproductive success. The negative effect of aliens on visitation and reproductive success increased at high relative alien plant abundance, but this increase was proportionally lower than the increase in relative plant abundance. Likewise, effect of aliens on visitation and reproductive success was most detrimental when alien and focal species had similar flower symmetry or colour. The phylogenetic relatedness between alien neighbours and focals influenced the reproductive success effect size. Results of the phylogenetic meta-analysis were only partly consistent with those of the conventional meta-analysis, depending on the response variable and on whether we controlled for the phylogeny of neighbour or focal species, which calls for special attention to control for species relatedness in this type of review. This study demonstrates the predominant detrimental impact of alien plants on pollination and reproduction of natives, and highlights the importance of phenotypic similarity to the outcome of the interaction.
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            Experimental analysis of the effect of exotic and native plant species on the structure and function of soil microbial communities

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              On the formation of dense understory layers in forests worldwide: consequences and implications for forest dynamics, biodiversity, and succession

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                NeoBiota
                NB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2488
                1619-0033
                May 14 2020
                May 14 2020
                : 56
                : 73-88
                Article
                10.3897/neobiota.56.49581
                © 2020

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