Ecology of invasive Melilotus albus on Alaskan glacial river floodplains

Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
By: , and 



Melilotus albus (white sweetclover) has invaded Alaskan glacial river floodplains. We measured cover and density of plant species and environmental variables along transects perpendicular to the Nenana, Matanuska, and Stikine Rivers to study interactions between M. albus and other plant species and to characterize the environment where it establishes. Melilotus albus was a pioneer species on recently disturbed sites and did not persist into closed canopy forests. The relationships between M. albus cover and density and other species were site-specific.Melilotus albus was negatively correlated with native species Elaeagnus commutata at the Nenana River, but not at the Matanuska River. Melilotus albus was positively correlated with the exotic species Crepis tectorumand Taraxacum officinale at the Matanuska River and T. officinale on the upper Stikine River. However, the high density of M. albus at a lower Stikine River site was negatively correlated with T. officinale and several native species including Lathyrus japonicus var. maritimus and Salix alaxensis. Glacial river floodplains in Alaska are highly disturbed and are corridors for exotic plant species movement. Melilotus albus at moderate to low densities may facilitate establishment of exotic species, but at high densities can reduce the cover and density of both exotic and native species.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ecology of invasive Melilotus albus on Alaskan glacial river floodplains
Series title Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
DOI 10.1657/1938-4246-43.3.343
Volume 43
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
Description 12 p.
Larger Work Title Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
First page 343
Last page 354
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Matanuska River, Nenana River, Stikine River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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