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Effects of simulated herbivory on garlic mustard

Kyle Burns, Tyler McPheters, Ashley Paschal, and Brian Scott

Class project for Conservation Biology, BIO 345, spring 2006

Kyle Burns in the riparian forest at the Nature Park.

Invasive plants present a major ecological concern, and their successful management is vital for the sustenance of ecosystem integrity and biodiversity.  Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) invades deciduous forests in North America with few natural threats from herbivores.  Biological controls, however, might be an effective and environmentally sound way to eradicate garlic mustard populations.  Simulated herbivory is a suitable way to experimentally study the effects of herbivory on plant growth and reproduction.  After simulating herbivory on garlic mustard plants, we found that our treatments had no effect on the plants’ growth or reproduction.  If ecologists plan to utilize biological controls, these herbivores must inflict a large amount of damage to produce an effect on garlic mustard.  Due to its resilience against herbivory, this plant deserves a great deal of attention and might require more swift means of eradication than herbivory. 

Click here to download:
Kyle Burns's report (microsoft word; 0.2 MB)
Kyle Burns's Garlic Mustard (powerpoint; 7.8 MB)

This photo of Tyler McPheters is a great illustration
of how dense the garlic mustard grows in some portions
of the riparian forest along Big Walnut Creek.