Stacey Leicht Young


Stacey Leicht Young

Visiting Fellow

1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD University of Connecticut
BS University of Notre Dame

Research Interests

In the course of my research, I have focused on two main areas: the ecology of invasive plant species and the ecology of temperate liana (woody vine) species. My graduate work with Dr. John Silander focused on the ecology of the invasive oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and its native counterpart, American bittersweet (C. scandens). I selected these two species because the oriental bittersweet is one of the worst invaders in the Eastern US, while American bittersweet is on the decline in New England and many other regions. I found that oriental bittersweet has superior competitive abilities compared to our native species, and that lianas can actually show a positive response to competition unlike most other plant growth types. I continued my research on invasive species and oriental bittersweet for six years at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore with the US Geological Survey. There my colleague Dr. Noel Pavlovic and I worked on several projects relating to bittersweet including the morphological differences between species as well as the effects of prescribed fire on its reproduction, growth, and distribution.

Oriental and American bittersweet have proved to be an ideal model system for comparing both native and invasive congeners, as well as comparing Asian and North American liana species. It was my work with the bittersweet species which led to my broader interest in the ecology of temperate lianas. Temperate lianas are understudied because of their lower diversity in these regions compared with tropical zones. However, there is much greater diversity of lianas in temperate East Asia than in North America. Since the vast majority of lianas that exhibit invasive qualities on our continent hail from East Asia, they may be exploiting an empty niche in North America due to low diversity of species. As a Putnam Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum and now as a Visiting Fellow, I am examining biological, morphological, and ecological traits of both North American and Asian lianas. The vast collection at the Arnold Arboretum, especially in the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden, provides an ideal venue for comparing species to determine if there are general trends that characterize the traits of northern temperate lianas.


  • Leicht-Young, S.A., N.B. Pavlovic, and R. Grundel. 2013. Susceptibility of Eastern U.S. habitats to invasion of Celastrus orbiculatus (oriental bittersweet) following fire. Forest Ecology and Management 302: 85-96.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., N.B. Pavlovic and J.V. Adams. 2012. Competitive interactions of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis). Invasive Plant Science and Management 5 (1): 27-36.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A. and N.B. Pavlovic. 2012. Encroachment of oriental bittersweet into Pitcher’s thistle habitat. Natural Areas Journal 32 (2): 171-176.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., A. M. Latimer, and J. A. Silander Jr. 2011. Lianas escape self-thinning: experimental evidence of positive density dependence in temperate lianas Celastrus orbiculatus and C. scandens. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 13 (3): 163- 172.
  • Pavlovic, N.B. and S.A. Leicht-Young. 2011. Are temperate mature forests buffered from invasive lianas? Journal of the Torrey Botanical Club 138 (1): 85-92.
  • Pavlovic, N.B., S.A. Leicht-Young, and R. Grundel. 2011. Short-term effects of burn season on flowering phenology of savanna plants. Plant Ecology 212: 611-625.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., N. B. Pavlovic, K.J. Frohnapple, and R. Grundel. 2010. Liana habitat and host preferences in northern temperate forests. Forest Ecology and Management 260: 1467-1477.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., H. O’Donnell, A.M. Latimer and J.A. Silander, Jr. 2009. Effects of an invasive plant species, Celastrus orbiculatus, on soil composition and processes. The American Midland Naturalist 161: 219-231.
  • Pavlovic, N. B., S.A. Leicht-Young, K.J. Frohnapple, and R. Grundel. 2009. Effect of removal of Hesperis matronalis (dame’s rocket) on forest understory vegetation in NW Indiana. The American Midland Naturalist 161: 165-176.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., N.B. Pavlovic, R. Grundel, and K.J. Frohnapple. 2009. A comparison of seed banks across a sand dune successional gradient at Lake Michigan Dunes (Indiana, USA). Plant Ecology 202: 299-308.
  • Connolly, B. and S.A. Leicht-Young. 2008. Noteworthy Collections: MISSISSIPPI. Castanea 73 (2): 150.
  • Martine, C.T., S. Leicht-Young, P. Herron, and A. Latimer. 2008. Fifteen woody species with potential for invasiveness in New England. Rhodora 110 (943): 345-353.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., N.B. Pavlovic, R. Grundel, and K.J. Frohnapple. 2007. Distinguishing native (Celastrus scandens L.) and invasive (C. orbiculatus Thunb.) bittersweet species using morphological characteristics. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 134 (4): 441-450.
  • Leicht-Young, S.A., J.A. Silander Jr., and A.M. Latimer. 2007. Comparative performance of invasive and native Celastrus species across environmental gradients. Oecologia 154: 273-282.
  • Herron, P.M., C.T. Martine, A.M. Latimer, and S.A. Leicht-Young. 2007. Invasive plants and their ecological strategies: prediction and explanation of woody plant invasion in New England. Diversity and Distributions 13: 633-644.
  • Leicht, S.A. and J.A. Silander Jr. 2006. Differential Responses of Invasive Celastrus orbiculatus (Celastraceae) and Native C. scandens to changes in light quality. American Journal of Botany 93: 972-977.
  • Watkins Jr., J.E., A.Y. Kawahara, S.A. Leicht, J.R. Auld, A.J. Bicksler, and K. Kaiser. 2006. Fern laminar scales protect against photoinhibition from excess light. American Fern Journal 96 (3): 83-92.
  • Leicht, S.A., J.A. Silander Jr., and K.E. Greenberg. 2005. Assessing the competitive ability of Japanese stilt grass, Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132 (4): 573-580.
  • Leicht, S. A.. The comparative ecology of an invasive bittersweet species (Celastrus orbiculatus) and its native congener (C. scandens). PhD dissertation. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander Jr., S.A. Leicht, E.S. Mosher, and N.M. Tabak. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA. 84 pages.
  • Kellogg, C.H., S.D. Bridgham, and S.A. Leicht. 2003. Effects of water level, shade and time on germination and growth of freshwater marsh species along a simulated successional gradient. Journal of Ecology 91: 274-282