Influence of Low Density Garlic Mustard Presence and Hardwood Leaf Litter Composition on Litter Dwelling Arthropod Diversity

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Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science



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Peer Reviewed



Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande) is a non-native plant that commonly invades hardwood forest understory plant communities. Such invasions have the potential of restructuring forest communities and influencing community function. Litter dwelling arthropods were collected from areas with and without garlic mustard, and were identified to family. Forest characteristics, including canopy cover, forest basal area, litter depth, and soil moisture, were also measured. Plot locations with and without garlic mustard did not differ in the forest characteristics. However, arthropod richness was significantly reduced in areas with garlic mustard compared to areas without. Arthropod richness and diversity were positively related to leaf litter species diversity. In nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination, mature garlic mustard density influenced a few arthropod taxonomic groups. However, it is likely that forest characteristics that facilitate the intensity of garlic mustard colonization (i.e., canopy cover, moisture) may be part of that influence. Additionally, leaf litter species richness provided a strong relationship with the majority of taxonomic groups. While garlic mustard presence may have a minor influence on the litter dwelling arthropod community, leaf litter richness and diversity play a major role in defining the arthropod community diversity and individual taxonomic group abundances. Management to control garlic mustard in forests may have little impact on leaf litter dwelling arthropods, especially if the litter layer remains intact.


Alliaria petiolata, diversity, garlic mustard, litter dwelling arthropods, Tullgren-Berlese trap


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Entomology | Forest Biology

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