Common invasive species and rare endemic species can grow and interact at the ecotone between forested and non-forested dune habitats. To investigate these interactions, a comparison of the proximity and community associates of a sympatric invasive (Celastrus orbiculatus; oriental bittersweet) and native (C. scandens; American bittersweet) liana species to federally threatened Cirsium pitcheri (Pitcher's thistle) in the dunes habitats of Lake Michigan was conducted. Overall, the density of the invasive liana species was significantly greater in proximity to C. pitcheri than the native species. On the basis of composition, the three focal species occurred in both foredune and blowout habitats. The plant communities associated with the three focal species overlapped in ordination space, but there were significant differences in composition. The ability of C. orbiculatus to rapidly grow and change the ecological dynamics of invasion sites adds an additional threat to the successional habitats of C. pitcheri.
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Encroachment of oriental bittersweet into Pitcher’s thistle habitat