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Grape vines and cherry trees

Chase Sadler and Jack Gomez
Ecology class, BIO 342, Biology Department, DePauw University
Fall semester 2016

We studied the effects of grape vines on growth of black cherry trees in the DePauw Nature Park.  Previous research by DePauw students found that growth of ash trees was affected by grape vines whereas growth of sugar maple trees was not affected by grape vines.  Grape vines may be more likely to affect shade-intolerant tree species, such as ash and black cherry, because the grape vines compete with the trees for access to sunlight in the canopy.

We hypothesized that growth of black cherry trees with grape vines would be negatively affected compared to black cherry trees without grape vines.

We selected ten pairs of black cherry trees in forested areas east of the Rail Trail.  Each pair of trees was within 10 cm circumference and in the same habitat.  Within each pair, one cherry tree was colonized by a grape vine and the other cherry tree was not colonized by a grape vine.  Each tree was cored with an increment borer at chest height.  We measured the circumference of each tree.  We dried and sanded the tree cores.  We measured width of tree rings using a Velmex measuring system connected to a microscope to compare the growth of trees with and without grape vines.  

Results and Discussion
Black cherry trees with grape vines had a significantly lower growth rate than cherry trees without vines (1.59 +/- 0.04 mm vs. 1.71 +/- 0.04 mm).  The lower growth rate was most likely due to the shade-intolerance of black cherry trees.