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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section


Effect of Aesculus glabra canopy on understory plant community structure and environment.

Understory plants in temperate deciduous forests are dependent on a spring window of high light availability prior to canopy leafout.  Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra Willd., Hippocastanaceae) produces leaves several weeks before other trees in the same habitat.  Consequently, the presence of buckeye in the canopy is hypothesized to reduce or eliminate the spring high-light period, and therefore to have a negative effect on understory plants.  This hypothesis was tested in a rich, mesic, secondary forest in northeastern Indiana.  Stratified random sampling was used to place transects in patches with and without buckeye canopy in early May.  Cover of understory vascular plants (herbs plus woody plants <0.5 m height), light availability and soil temperature, moisture, phosphate and nitrate were measured.  A. glabra soil samples and leaf extracts were tested for allelopathic effects on germination of native (Phlox divaricata) and agricultural (Lactuca sativa, Raphanus sativus) species. Microsites with buckeye-dominated canopy had significantly lower understory cover and species per quadrat. Ordination indicated that species composition was significantly correlated with buckeye in the canopy, light availability, and soil phosphate.  Of 16 abundant understory species, 3 had significantly higher cover under buckeye canopy, and 6 were more common in microsites without buckeye.  Contrary to expectation, many spring ephemeral herbs were unaffected by buckeye. A. glabra affected the understory environment in several ways.  Light availability was significantly lower under A. glabra, soil phosphate and early spring soil temperature were higher, and soil moisture and soil nitrate did not differ.  A. glabra showed weak allelopathic effects on agricultural but not native species.

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1 - Manchester University, Department Of Biology, 604 College Ave, Science Center, North Manchester, IN, 46962, USA
2 - Manchester University, Biology, 604 College Ave, North Manchester, IN, 46962, USA

understory plants
temperate deciduous forest

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Eyrie/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PEC003
Abstract ID:349
Candidate for Awards:None

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