Influence of Land-Use History & Jumping Worm Invasion on Species Richness & Composition of Maple-Basswood Understory Plant Communities

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Influence of Land-Use History & Jumping Worm Invasion on Species Richness & Composition of Maple-Basswood Understory Plant Communities

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2021-12

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In temperate forests around the globe the majority of the vascular plant diversity is concentrated in the understory/forest floor layers of the forest. Vascular plant diversity has decreased in these areas largely due to continual land conversion to agriculture and from the introduction of invasive species into these landscapes. Maple-basswood forest communities in two Minnesota counties were assessed for how their vascular plants responded to environmental pressures. Fifty 1 ha blocks were established across four sites (two old-growth and two secondary), with each 1 ha block containing twenty 1m2 subplots, with sampling taking place in three separate rounds from April – September 2021. Significant differences in the richness of vascular plants were detected based upon the stand history and whether the stand was invaded by the European nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris) or the Asian jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis), with old-growth stands having lower richness and Amynthas stands also having lower richness than their counterparts. Nineteen indicator species were found for secondary stands, largely consisting of generalist broadleaved herbs, while no indicators were found for old-growth, European or Amynthas stands. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) was used for assessing community compositions within ordination space and PERMANOVA tests revealed that there were significant differences between sites and between old-growth and secondary stands. Evidence from this study shows that the land use history of a site and the type of earthworm that has invaded a stand can cause significant differences to arise in the plant species richness of the stand, with an apparent decline and extinction debt continuing to plague these landscapes

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University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. 2021. Major: Natural Resources Science and Management. Advisor: Lee Frelich. 1 computer file (PDF); 85 pages.

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Goodall, Louis. (2021). Influence of Land-Use History & Jumping Worm Invasion on Species Richness & Composition of Maple-Basswood Understory Plant Communities. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/226926.

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