This experiment will employ two soil types: one previously exposed to garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which is known to significantly diminish mycorrhizal colonization in several understory tree species, and one that has not. This study will measure the interaction of garlic mustard invasion with soil nutrient stoichiometry (N:P ratio) and water status to determine if sugar maples with greatly diminished mycorrhizal colonization (a result of garlic mustard invasion) are more sensitive to drought and soil nutrient status. Soil from garlic mustard-invaded and uninvaded plots will be extracted from Koffler Scientific Reserve to “seed” soils used in this experiment with diverse, indigenous mycorrhizae and putative garlic mustard allelochemicals. Sugar maple, a plant that is highly dependent upon mycorrhizae, exhibits reduced growth and mycorrhizal colonization in the presence of garlic mustard. This experiment will primarily be focused on assessing the interaction of garlic mustard invasion with pertinent abiotic factors (periodic drought, soil N:P ratio) to determine if the presence of garlic mustard further diminishes sugar maple performance in the face of these abiotic stressors.
Dr. Patrick Vogan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Integrative Biology, University of Guelph