Determining the effects the combined growth Alliaria petiolata and Rhamnus cathartica have on soil composition.
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With invasive species becoming a topic of increasing concern in the scientific and economical realms, it important to understand exactly how invasive plant species are able to alter and affect an ecosystem. Invasive plants affect an ecosystem in many different ways including out- competing the native plants, reducing biodiversity, and altering soil composition. Two such plants known to alter soil composition are garlic mustard (A. petiolata) and buckthorn (R. cathartica), common species in the forests of southeastern Wisconsin. Although research has been conducted exploring just how these two plants have affected soil composition, few if any have been performed focusing on their relationship with one another and the combined effect their growth has on the soil. In order to address this issue, this study has been conducted to test the soil from areas with just buckthorn stands, just garlic mustard patches, and then areas where the two plants are growing together. Based on observations from previous research concerning the two plants separately, it was hypothesized that with the combined growth of the two plants the soil will show a significant difference when focusing on soil nutrients, moisture, bulk density, and pH, specifically that the soil with the two plants combined will be higher than the average of the qualities of the soil where the plants grow apart. Though not statistically significant the results showed a trend that supported the hypothesis that soil composition differed when the two plants were growing together. This information collected is useful to gaining a better understanding of how the two plants interact and their possible effects on the soil.