Abstract

The invasive species Alliaria petiolata threatens forest understories as it alters soil nutrients and microbial composition, thereby changing the local plant community. To investigate the environmental factors influencing its invasion, we hypothesized that the performance of A. petiolata is limited by resource availability and plant biodiversity, but facilitated by disturbance. We quantified light intensity, herbivory damage, plant fitness and coverage, biodiversity, and the distance to the nearest road in 25 plots in northeastern Pennsylvania that varied in density of A. petiolata. We found that high-light-intensity plots were positively correlated with herbivory damage, and plant coverage decreased as the distance to the road increased. However, the plant relative fitness and coverage were not directly influenced by light availability nor by the biodiversity of the plot. We conclude that the invasion of A. petiolata is facilitated by human disturbance and partially limited by resource availability, but not prohibited by biodiversity in its introduced range.

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