Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Integrative Biology


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Dr. Jerome Howard

Second Advisor

Nicola Anthony

Third Advisor

Erin Cox

Fourth Advisor

Emily Farrer


Kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata (Willd.), is a common invasive species throughout the American South. In southern upland mixed oak-pine forests of Mississippi, kudzu invasion generally and indiscriminately suppressed the pre-invasion plant community. Three different control methods reduced kudzu density but differed in the level of reduction achieved and in their effects on the pre-existing plant community. A combination of burning and herbicides produced the most desirable outcome in terms of restoring the pre-invasion community. Kudzu invasion significantly increased nitrate pools compared to control sites, but had no effect on ammonium or nitrite, or on the microbial processes of mineralization or nitrification. Nitrogen ions and microbial activity differed little among infested, control and kudzu removal sites, but did exhibit variation over time. The effects of kudzu on nitrogen cycling were largely transient, suggesting that its impact on native plant communities is mainly due to light competition. An economic analysis of kudzu control methods revealed that life history largely determines the level of control attainable, but that either prescribed burning or herbicide treatment may effectively control slow-growing populations. This analysis compares the relative importance of mechanisms through which kudzu affects native communities, methods for its control, and cost-benefit analysis useful for evaluating methods for active management.


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