Influence of Microstegium vimineum presence on insect abundance in hardwood forests

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Microstegium vimineum (Japanese Stiltgrass) is an exotic, annual grass that has invaded hardwood forests throughout the Southeastern United States. Four forests, in four Tennessee counties, were selected, and insects and plant communities were sampled along transects with and without M. vimineum. Insects were sampled using a terrestrial vacuum sampler. Percent plant cover was measured using a point-intercept technique, and plant species richness and diversity were calculated. Of the 60 families collected, significantly more individuals in the families Acrididae, Cicadellidae, and Gryllidae, were collected in areas with M. vimineum, whereas areas without M. vimineum resulted in significantly more individuals in the families Blattellidae and Chrysomelidae. Herbaceous plant richness and diversity did not significantly differ between areas with and without M. vimineum. Areas without M. vimineum had significantly lower percent vegetation cover (30.41%) than areas with M. vimineum (91.48%). The overall herbaceous plant community diversity and structure may be more influential factors in the abundances of insect families in central hardwood forests than the invasion of M. vimineum.

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Southeastern Naturalist