Plant invasions in forest ecosystems
US Forest Service provides extensive forest inventory data across the USA through the Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA) National Program. Using FIA data, I study various topics related to plant invasions and ecosystem functioning in forest ecosystems in the USA.
Expansion of non-native invasive plants in the eastern United States
Expansion of nonnative invasive plants have been a major challenge for various ecosystems worldwide. Despite the importance of understanding of invader expansion patterns to manage those species, the spatio-temporal progression of invaders is not well understood. In the Fei lab at Purdue University, using herbarium records in the eastern USA, we constructed invader expansion networks over the past two centuries and examined how human mediation and plant traits affect the expansion process.
Above- and below-ground resource-use strategies of understory woody species
During the PhD program in the Frank and Fridley labs at Syracuse University, I aimed to examine how the coupled carbon (C) and nutrient-use strategies of invasive plants differ from natives and how the unique plant C and nutrient use patterns of invasives affect soil C and nutrient processes. Because C and nutrient processes are inextricably coupled in plants, the greater C uptake and use patterns of invasives likely are linked to a different resource use strategy than that of native species. I found that non-native shrubs had a greater productivity. Interestingly, non-natives had lower leaf nitrogen (N) resorption rates but higher leaf N concentration and specific root length (SRL) than natives. These results suggest that non-native shrubs have a greater capacity to take up soil nutrients but a less conservative nutrient use strategy compared to natives (Jo et al., Biological Invasions, 2015).
Drivers of leaf and root decomposition
Litter bag experiment to determine leaf and root decomposition rates for native and non-native species in Eastern USA. Pompey, NY (USA). Photo by Hana Kim
Further, I examined whether the different tissue traits are associated with litter decomposition rate and invaders can increase nutrient cycling through faster litter decomposition than natives. I determined decomposition rates of root and leaf litter among 48 and 78 woody species, respectively and revealed no different leaf and root decomposition rates between native and non-native species, suggesting litter decomposition rate is not a pathway that invasive species affect soil nutrient processes in the Eastern U.S. forests (Jo et al., New Phytologist, 2016).
How do invaders alter ecosystem processes?
Monoculture plots of native and non-native invaders at Syracuse University experimental garden. Syracuse, NY (USA). Photo by Insu Jo