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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 170931, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/170931
Research Article

Determining Effective Riparian Buffer Width for Nonnative Plant Exclusion and Habitat Enhancement

1Department of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
2US Forest Service, Newark, DE 19716, USA

Received 16 August 2011; Revised 8 January 2012; Accepted 9 January 2012

Academic Editor: Patricia Mosto

Copyright © 2012 Gavin Ferris et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Nonnative plants threaten native biodiversity in landscapes where habitats are fragmented. Unfortunately, in developed areas, much of the remaining forested habitat occurs in fragmented riparian corridors. Because forested corridors of sufficient width may allow forest interior specializing native species to retain competitive advantage over edge specialist and generalist nonnative plants, identifying appropriate corridor widths to minimize nonnative plants and maximize ecosystem integrity is of habitat management concern. We measured the occurrences of 4 species of nonnative plants across the widths of 31 forested riparian corridors of varying widths in the White Clay Creek watershed of Pennsylvania and Delaware. Using repeated measures ANOVA, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) prevalence did not significantly decline across buffer widths. However, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) declined strongly within the first 15–25 m. Managing for riparian corridor widths a minimum of 15–25 m has the potential to enhance habitat quality but no corridor width (≤55 m) will exclude all invasive plants.