Impacts of temperate lianas on tree growth in young deciduous forests
Forest Ecology and Management
Lianas are often overlooked in temperate ecological studies even though they are important components of forest communities. While lianas have been shown to damage tropical canopy trees and reduce the growth of juvenile trees, the impact of lianas on canopy tree growth in temperate systems is largely unknown. Growth of trees â€šÃ¢â€¢8 cm dbh was examined over a 9-year period within 50-year old post-agricultural secondary forests in the Piedmont region of New Jersey, USA. Five lianas, Celastrus orbiculatus, Lonicera japonica, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Toxicodendron radicans, and Vitis species, occurred throughout the forest. Total liana basal area, number of stems, and percent cover within host trees were evaluated to assess liana burdens on 606 previously censused trees. These data were related to tree growth to assess liana impacts. Forest trees were separated based on their dominance in the canopy to determine whether lianas had the potential to influence forest composition. In general, lianas in the forests were fairly abundant, with 68% of the trees having at least one liana present. On average, each tree supported 9.7 cm2 of liana basal area and 23% of the canopy was covered by lianas. Most of the variation in tree growth was related to the dominance of trees within the canopy, with canopy dominant and co-dominant trees growing 2.5âˆšÃ³ more than suppressed trees. Liana basal area and number of lianas stems were not related to tree growth, but liana canopy cover decreased tree growth. However, not all trees were equally affected as canopy cover of lianas only reduced growth in dominant and co-dominant trees. Lianas were most influential on host tree growth in unsuppressed trees when occupying a majority of the canopy, only a minority of forest trees. This suppression was not related to differential liana colonization of canopy trees as all canopy classes supported equivalent liana burdens. Though lianas impacted only a minority of the trees in this system, some liana species, C. orbiculatus and Vitis spp., are still increasing and may pose future risks to forest growth and development.