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New Harvard Forest Publication: Invasive Species Distribution and Historical Land Use

Friday, February 1, 2008
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Despite the recognized importance of historical factors in controlling many native species distributions, few studies have incorporated historical landscape changes into models of invasive species distribution and abundance. We surveyed 159 currently forested sites for the occurrence and abundance of Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry), an invasive, non-native shrub in forests of the northeastern U.S., relative to modern environmental conditions, contemporary logging activity, and two periods of historical land use. Modern edaphic characteristics explained a significant portion of the variation in B. thunbergii occurrence, whereas site history considerably improved predictions of population density and helped evaluate potential invasion mechanisms. Our results indicate that interpretations of both native community composition and modern plant invasions must consider the importance of historical landscape changes and the timing of species introduction along with current environmental conditions.

DeGasperis, B.G. and G. Motzkin. 2007. Windows of Opportunity: Historical and Ecological Controls on Berberis thunbergii invasions. Ecology, 88(12), pp. 3115–3125.

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