Dr. Anna Aguilera
Assistant Professor, Biology Department
"Aquatic and Terrestrial Decomposition of the Invasive Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)"
Mark your calendar for the next NEBC Meeting on December 2, 2016, at Harvard University with lecture by Dr. Anna Aguilera.
Plant invasion in riparian habitats can result in complex changes to ecosystem function. Leaf litter dropped by invasive plants into terrestrial and aquatic habitats can alter food and habitat quality for invertebrate communities, change decomposition rates, and in turn, alter nutrient availability for surrounding vegetation. We determined decomposition rates and invertebrate habitat quality of two maple species: the native Acer saccharum and the non-native (and invasive) Acer platanoides as part of a larger project by the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN). The larger project asks whether decomposition rates of invasive species are faster than native species across a range of environments. Our work with Acer species provides data for this project, but also tests more locally specific hypotheses. First, that Acer platanoides decompose more rapidly than Acer saccharum. Second, that Acer paltanoides reduces invertebrate abundance in Boston. We placed experimental litter bags in the stream and adjacent stream bank in the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA. The bags were filled with the following litter combinations: 100% A. saccharum, 75% A. saccharum and 25% A. platanoides, 50% A. saccharum and 50% A. platanoides, 25% A. saccharum and 75% A. platanoides, and 100% A. platanoides. Each habitat type had two removal times. We removed the aquatic litter bags after 1.5 and 3 months and the terrestrial bags after 3 and 9 months. We counted the invertebrates in each bag, and dried, and weighed the remaining biomass. Finally, we calculated decomposition rate, and invertebrate abundance for each treatment type. We found no significant difference in decomposition rate based on our litter treatments. However, we did find significantly fewer invertebrates in bags that were primarily composed of the invasive Acer platanoides litter.
Fernald Award Announced
Joann Hoy and Scott Bailey
This year's recipients of the New England Botanical Club's Merritt Lyndon Fernald Award are Scott W. Bailey, Joann Hoy, and Charles V. Cogbill for their paper published in Rhodora 117 (969): 1-40.
To quote the three judges on the Fernald panel: "Bailey et. al. have used a combination of good old fashioned botanical sleuthing to relocate and investigate an unusual alpine meadow first described in the literature by Fernald himself. They combined thorough work in the herbarium with meticulous and detailed work in the field. As a result, they were able to compare present conditions of the flora with notes and analyses made by Fernald and his collaborator Collins more than a century ago. Bailey, Hoy, and Cogbill have added considerable information about the chemical composition of groundwater and rock samples when analyzing the distribution and assemblage of plants in the meadow, using techniques not available at the beginning of the 20th century."