Author

Kaitlyn Shott

Date Approved

2012

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Katherine Greenwald

Second Advisor

Dr. Marianne Laporte

Abstract

Wetlands are critical habitat for many species, making their protection a priority for biodiversity conservation. However, these ecosystems are being degraded at substantial rates. One factor that can be particularly detrimental is the presence of non­ native plant species. Exotic species have been known to out compete native species, alter trophic interactions between native species and transform habitat structure. To investigate the effect non-native plants have on amphibian species richness, I surveyed for the non­ native plant species around ten ponds at the University of Michigan's Edwin S. George Reserve. This was done to evaluate their effect on amphibian communities, which have been known to act as good indicator species of habitat quality. These ponds were chosen based on their similar size, hydroperiod and canopy cover. Plant samples were collected every ten paces around each pond's edge. The most abundant plants within a 1 meter radius were collected. Non-native species found were autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora Thunb.), and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.). The proportion of non-native plant samples for each pond was calculated (range: 0-100%; mean±SE: 21.6±29.5%), as was the native plant species richness (mean±SE: 0.462±0.233). These data were then compared to the presence of 13 amphibian species. There was a trend toward ponds with a higher proportion of non­ native plants having fewer amphibian species (R2=0.3257; p=0.64087). These results have important implications to understanding the effect non-native plant species have on amphibian communities.

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