Removing an exotic shrub from riparian forests increases butterfly abundance and diversity

  • Authors: Hanula, James; Horn, Scott
  • Publication Year: 2011
  • Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
  • Source: Forest Ecology Management 262:674-680


Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to endangered insect species and a major threat to Lepidoptera in eastern North America. We investigated the effects of the invasive shrub Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) and two methods (mulching or hand-felling) of removing it from riparian forests on butterfly communities and compared them to untreated, heavily invaded control plots and to ‘‘desired future condition’’ forests that never had extensive privet cover. Privet mulching resulted in nearly twice as many butterflies as privet felling and both treatments had more butterflies two years after privet removal than untreated control plots. Butterfly communities on control plots differed from those on the two treatments and the desired future condition forests. A number of forest characteristics were evaluated but only herbaceous plant cover (excluding privet) was positively correlated with butterfly abundance, diversity and evenness. The Carolina satyr, Hermeuptychia sosybius, was the best indicator of forests where privet had never invaded. Removing Chinese privet from riparian forests in the southeastern United States greatly improved forest habitats for butterflies and evidence suggests that butterfly communities in other temperate forests could benefit from removal of extensive shrub layers dominated by a single species.

  • Citation: Hanula, J.L.; Horn, S. 2011. Removing an exotic shrub from riparian forests increases butterfly abundance and diversity. Forest Ecology Management 262:674-680.
  • Keywords: Invasive species, chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, Floodplain, Lepidoptera, Butterfly conservation
  • Posted Date: June 8, 2011
  • Modified Date: July 15, 2011
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.