Invasive shrubs in forest understories threaten biodiversity and forest regeneration in the eastern United States. Controlling these extensive monotypic shrub thickets is a protracted process that slows the restoration of degraded forest land. Invasive shrub removal can be accelerated by using forestry mulching heads, but evidence from the western United States indicates that mulching heads can promote exotic species establishment and mulch deposition can reduce native plant species abundance. We compared the effectiveness of the mulching head and the “cut-stump” method for controlling the invasive shrub Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii
), as well as their impacts on native plant community recovery, in mixed-hardwood forests of Indiana. After two growing seasons, mulching head treatment resulted in greater L. maackii
regrowth and regeneration. The recovery of native plant abundance and diversity following shrub removal did not differ between the two methods. However, mulch deposition was associated with increased abundance of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata
), an invasive forb. Increasing mulching head treatment depth reduced L. maackii
regrowth, but additional study is needed to determine how it affects plant community responses. The mulching head is a promising technique for invasive shrub control and investigating tradeoffs between reducing landscape-scale propagule pressure and increased local establishment will further inform its utility.
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