Lianas have the potential to shape forest communities and alter forest regeneration. However, impacts of lianas on forest regeneration, particularly in temperate forests, are largely unstudied. To understand potential liana impacts on the community we need to first know the location and intensity of liana burdens on host trees. We examined liana-tree host references within a series of young regenerating deciduous forests in the Piedmont region of New Jersey, USA. Established trees ($ 5 cm dbh) and the lianas associated with each tree were surveyed in 2008. The five most abundant liana species were Celastrus orbiculatus, Lonicera japonica, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Toxicodendron radicans, and Vitis species. Host preference for each liana species was measured in two ways, as colonization on tree trunks and coverage in the canopy. Host preferences based on tree species and tree size were compared among liana species. A total of 798 trees were measured and lianas occurred on 64% of them. Host preferences were generally consistent between colonization and canopy expansion, suggesting the same factors that regulate establishment also regulate liana growth. Most liana species had higher colonization and greater canopy cover on early successional trees, particularly Juniperus virginiana. In contrast, Vitis spp. were more abundant on canopy hardwood trees. Slight preferences based on tree size were seen for some species. The preference of lianas for early successional trees may make lianas a contributing factor to the acceleration of succession within this eastern deciduous forest. However, the continued expansion of some lianas at the site, particularly Vitis spp. and C. orbiculatus, may alter future liana-tree associations and forest trajectories.
Ladwig, Laura M. and Meiners, Scott J., "Liana host preference and implications for deciduous forest regeneration" (2010). Faculty Research & Creative Activity. 14.