Browsing Senior Honors Theses by Subject "Invasive Species"
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Investigating the allelopathic effects of pale swallowwort (Cynanchum rossicum) on the growth success of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and pale swallowwortInvasive species seriously threaten both biodiversity and ecosystem functionality. One mechanism that makes invasive plants successful is allelopathy, which is the release of chemical compounds that have negative effects on other plants. A vine that is native to the Ukraine region and is now highly invasive in Western New York is Pale swallowwort (Cynanchum rossicum). It has the capability to change the growth situation in favor of itself by releasing allelochemicals into the soil. Thus far, little research has been conducted to examine the direct effects of swallowwort allelopathy on the growth of native plants. To accomplish this, two types of soil from two local sites were collected; the first that contained swallowwort remains, and the second that did not contain any swallowwort. The native and confamilial species Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) and swallowwort were planted in these soil types where growth was compared. It was hypothesized that the growth of milkweed would be limited by the swallowwort soil due to allelopathy and that swallowwort growing in soil containing remains of swallowwort would thrive. Analysis of growth data indicated that there were no significant differences in the success of swallowwort growing in both soil types and that milkweed growing in swallowwort soil was significantly smaller than milkweed planted in the control for one of two sites. This suggested that allelopathy or other changes to the soil induced by swallowwort may affect the growth of milkweed and improve the overall competitive ability of swallowwort.
The effects of pale swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) on forest moth communitiesPale swallowwort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) is an invasive vine that is rapidly invading northeastern forested ecosystems. Due to its broad tolerance of abiotic conditions and competitive advantage, it is perceived as a threat to native plant communities. Our study sought to determine whether or not invasion by pale swallowwort had a pronounced impact on moth (Lepidoptera) communities. We surveyed three pairs of deciduous forest plots and three pairs of coniferous forest plots. Each pair had a swallowwort plot and a plot without swallowwort. We used light traps to collect a total of 2,039 moths from 19 families and assessed differences in mean abundance, richness, and diversity. We found no differences in moth communities between canopy types or swallowwort plot types. We also assessed differences in abundance of four taxa (Halysidota tessellaris, Idia aemula, Malacosoma americana, and Noctua pronuba), which were all more abundant in deciduous canopy plots. This suggests that the scale of an invasion and the quality of habitat invaded are both important factors to note when trying to quantitatively assess their impacts on higher trophic levels.