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Forests 2012, 3(2), 190-206; doi:10.3390/f3020190
Article

A Comparison of Invasive Acer platanoides and Native A. saccharum First-Year Seedlings: Growth, Biomass Distribution and the Influence of Ecological Factors in a Forest Understory

 and *
Received: 19 March 2012 / Revised: 9 April 2012 / Accepted: 24 April 2012 / Published: 3 May 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exotic and Invasive Plant Species Impacting Forests)
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Abstract

Invasive shade tolerant species can have profound and long-lasting detrimental effects even on previously undisturbed forests. In North American forests, the invasive Acer platanoides is capable of dominating the understory where it could displace the native Acer saccharum. To understand the relative importance of various ecological factors in a forest understory on their establishment, we transplanted A. platanoides and A. saccharum seedlings in an urban sugar maple forest understory and their growth and survival were compared over a growing season. Seedlings did not differ in height, but biomass growth and assimilation rates were twice as high for the invasive species. Ecological variables accounted for only 23–24% of variation in growth. Seedlings of A. platanoides appeared to capture light more efficiently, with over 150% greater foliage biomass and surface area. A. saccharum seedlings were more negatively affected by herbivory. The more robust A. platanoides seedlings presented characteristics that could allow them to better grow and survive in shaded understories than their native congeners.
Keywords: biological invasion; Acer platanoides; Acer saccharum; urban forest; herbivory; light biological invasion; Acer platanoides; Acer saccharum; urban forest; herbivory; light
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lapointe, M.; Brisson, J. A Comparison of Invasive Acer platanoides and Native A. saccharum First-Year Seedlings: Growth, Biomass Distribution and the Influence of Ecological Factors in a Forest Understory. Forests 2012, 3, 190-206.

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