Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Forest land use discontinuity and northern red oak Quercus rubra introduction change biomass allocation and life strategy of lingonberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea.

Abstract

Background: Multi-purpose use of forests in a sustainable way forces a recognition of how introduction of alien woody species in forests with different land use histories affect native plants other than trees. Lingonberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea is an important understory component of temperate and boreal forests and provider of valuable non-wood forest products. Here we studied effects of land use changes and introduction of Northern red oak Quercus rubra on lingonberry in mesic Scots pine forests (in central Poland). We measured lingonberry cover, height of shoots, biomass of stems and leaves, and fruit productivity. Shoots were collected within 200 research plots located in recent and ancient Scots pine forests, with and without Q. rubra. Results: We found that V. vitis-idaea reached lower cover, aboveground biomass and fruit production in recent than ancient forests and in forests with than without Q. rubra. The fruit production in recent pine forest was only 2% of that reported in ancient pine forest, and V. vitis-idaea did not reproduce generatively in forests with Q. rubra. Biomass and carbon sequestration of V. vitis-idaea in forests with alien (invasive) trees decreased by 75% compared to ancient pine forest. Effects were also clear at the individual shoot level - in less suitable conditions we found taller heights and higher biomass allocation into stems than foliage. Biomass allocation in fruiting and non-fruiting shoots in pine forests was also different - less of the dry biomass of fruiting shoots was allocated to leaves than to stems. Conclusions: In the age of high interest in ecosystem services and discussions about usage of alien tree species as alternatives in forest management, our results clearly indicate disruption of ecosystem services provided by V. vitis-idaea in the presence of Q. rubra. Lingonberry benefited from the continuity of forest land use, however, regardless of land-use legacy, alien tree introduction led to decline in abundance of species crucial for ecosystem functioning. Therefore, to maintain valuable native species and for conservation of ecosystem services delivery, we suggest limiting the introduction of Q. rubra in areas with abundant V. vitis-idaea, especially in forests with continuous forest land-use history.