Project Title

English Ivy Removal and Restoration of Biodiversity in a Piedmont Forest

Academic department under which the project should be listed

Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Matthew Weand

Does not use human subjects.

Project Type

Event

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Invasive species threaten biodiversity through their potential to out-compete native species. The Fernbank Forest is a unique forest in Atlanta, Georgia, where English Ivy is the major invasive. In many restoration efforts that remove invasive species, the recovery of native plants is compromised by disturbances from restoration processes, i.e., chemical treatment and mechanical digging. However, disturbance was minimized at Fernbank by removing the invasive species by hand. We took advantage of this effort to examine the recovery of native species, surveying forest plots with lower, middle, and upper elevations. We compared the diversity and percent cover of control plots (containing Ivy) to removal plots. We hypothesized that removal of English ivy would result in higher native plant biodiversity.Based on observations of deeper, richer soil and higher species richness in riparian zones, we also predicted that plots in lower elevations would show greater diversity after removal compared to the higher elevation plots. From 2018 to 2020, removal plots, and surprisingly control plots, showed an upward trend in diversity. Removal plots were consistently more diverse and showed a faster rate of recovery than controls. Removal plots showed a 78 percent increase in diversity while control plots showed a 49 percent increase. There was a significant difference between upper and lower elevation removal plots in 2018, but that difference was no longer significant in 2020. These findings will help future restoration efforts by providing data on the effectiveness of these restoration methods, as well as provide a reference from which to set recovery expectations.

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English Ivy Removal and Restoration of Biodiversity in a Piedmont Forest

Invasive species threaten biodiversity through their potential to out-compete native species. The Fernbank Forest is a unique forest in Atlanta, Georgia, where English Ivy is the major invasive. In many restoration efforts that remove invasive species, the recovery of native plants is compromised by disturbances from restoration processes, i.e., chemical treatment and mechanical digging. However, disturbance was minimized at Fernbank by removing the invasive species by hand. We took advantage of this effort to examine the recovery of native species, surveying forest plots with lower, middle, and upper elevations. We compared the diversity and percent cover of control plots (containing Ivy) to removal plots. We hypothesized that removal of English ivy would result in higher native plant biodiversity.Based on observations of deeper, richer soil and higher species richness in riparian zones, we also predicted that plots in lower elevations would show greater diversity after removal compared to the higher elevation plots. From 2018 to 2020, removal plots, and surprisingly control plots, showed an upward trend in diversity. Removal plots were consistently more diverse and showed a faster rate of recovery than controls. Removal plots showed a 78 percent increase in diversity while control plots showed a 49 percent increase. There was a significant difference between upper and lower elevation removal plots in 2018, but that difference was no longer significant in 2020. These findings will help future restoration efforts by providing data on the effectiveness of these restoration methods, as well as provide a reference from which to set recovery expectations.