The effects of competitive suppression by vines on the non-vine plant community have received little attention in temperate habitats. This study investigated the impact vines have on their herbaceous hosts in a wetland community at two soil fertility levels. Plots in an oligohaline marsh were treated in a 2 x 2 factorial design with vine removal and fertilization over two growing seasons. There was no significant interaction between removal and fertilization treatments on any of the measured variables. Vine removal initially caused an increase in light penetration through the canopy, but by the end of the study, plots with vines removed had less light due to a 25% increase in biomass by the plants released from competition with vines. For plots with vines removed, species richness was higher during a brief period in the spring of the second year, but by the end of the study, richness in removal plots decreased relative to controls. Fertilization caused a 40% increase in biomass overall, although only two species, Sagittaria lancifolia L. and Polygonum punctatum Ell., showed dramatic increases. Despite fertilization causing a 40% decrease in light penetration to the ground, no change in species richness was observed. Overall, these results show that vine cover in this wetland suppresses non-vine species and reduces community biomass. Removal of vines increased biomass of non-vine dominants but resulted in only an ephemeral change in species richness. Fertilization did not increase the effects of vines on the non-vine community.
Additional publication details
The influence of vines on an oligohaline marsh community: Results of a removal and fertilization study