Effect of herbivores on Sitka willow and associated plant and animal communities and soils.

The invasion of trees and shrubs in early succession is often transformative because of their potential to outcompete early pioneers, provide animal habitat, influence nutrient cycling, and occupy sites over long time spans. The extent to which insect herbivores influence such successional transitions is unknown. We are investigating whether herbivory by a pair of stem-boring insects may substantially impede the structural dominance of Salix sitchensis, the first abundant woody colonist on a large primary successional site at Mount St. Helens volcano, Washington, USA. We also quantify vegetation and soil development at these same sites. Our collaborator Charlie Crisafulli (USFS) quantifies bird use of these sites, eventually allowing us to link herbivore effects on vegetation to bird habitat.

 

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