The distribution of lianas and their change in abundance in temperate forests over the past 45 years

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Lianas ( woody vines) are an important and dynamic component of many forests throughout the world, and increases in CO2, mean winter temperature, and forest fragmentation may promote their growth and proliferation in temperate forests. In this study, we used a 45-year data set to test the hypothesis that lianas have increased in abundance and basal area in the interiors of 14 deciduous temperate forests in Wisconsin ( USA) since 1959. We also censused woody plants along a gradient from the forest edge to the interior in seven of these forests to test the hypothesis that the abundance of lianas declines significantly with increasing distance from the forest edge. We found that lianas did not increase in abundance within the interiors of temperate forests in Wisconsin over the last 45 years. However, relative and absolute liana abundance decreased sharply with increasing distance from forest edges. Our findings suggest that forest fragmentation, not climate change, may be increasing the abundance of lianas in northern deciduous temperate forests, and that lianas may further increase in abundance if the severity of forest fragmentation intensifies.