Liana Distributions in Disturbed Northern Indiana Temperate Forests and Management of Invasive Exotic Liana, Celastrus orbiculatus
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Lianas (perennial woody vines) are crucial elements in maintaining richness and diversity in developing and mature forested areas around the world. Reliance on surrounding vertical supports allows for increased allocation of resources toward vertical growth, leaf surface area, and reproduction. Lianas can outcompete vegetation for below and above ground resources such as light, water, and soil nutrient availability. Once lianas enter the understory, they can physically alter trees by constricting them to the point of retarding nutrient flow and by adding excess weight that can damage new growth and existing branches. Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet) is a highly invasive exotic liana that can drastically alter community structures as it becomes permanently established. We conducted transect based surveys in disturbed (within the last 100 years) temperate forests to determine liana distributions and the environmental factors associated with invasion and establishment.