Back to top

Novel Species Interactions: Effects of Invasive Plants on Butterflies, Birds, and Soil Biota

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Co-Principal Investigator/Co-Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Environmental Conservation Dept.
Project Description: 

A focal species of this work is the widespread invasive biennial plant, Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) which disrupts nativeplant-fungal interactions in Northeastern deciduous forests of North America. Unique plant chemicals exuded by the roots ofgarlic mustard disrupt symbioses between native plants and mycorrhizal fungi that live on their roots (Stinson et al., 2006), alterthe diversity and composition of the soil microbiome (Barto et al., 2012; Anthony et al. 2017; Figure 2), and can thereby changethe composition of native forest plant communities (Stinson et al., 2006; Haines et al., 2018). The glucosinolate, sinigrin, is oneof the chemicals produced by garlic mustard that also disrupts the behavior, reproduction, and population dynamics of nativebutterflies in the genus Pieris that rely on host plants of moist deciduous forests. The native butterfly Pieris oleracea is aregionally declining native species that relies on a native mustard plant Cardamine dyphilla. Females mistake garlic mustard fortheir native host, but garlic mustard is toxic to the emerging caterpillars, creating an "ecological trap". Additionally, garlicmustard is known to alter arthropod communities and foodwebs (Smith-Ramesh 2016) while co-occuring invasive shrubs likeLonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), Berberis thunbergii (barberry), and Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) alter the habitatand food sources of native birds (Schlossberg, S. and King, D. I. 2010, White and Styles 1992, Gallinat et al. 2020; David et al.2017, Van Der Putten et al. 2007). Moreover, changes in climate, deposition of nitrogen, and precipitation patterns are abioticfactors that could affect the performance of invasive plants and their impacts on native biodiversity (Dukes and Mooney 1999)

Environmental Conservation topics: