An Initiative to Increase Knowledge of and Monitor Changes in Species of Temperate Climbing Plants


A collage of Clematis virginiana with a Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus

Trees in temperate forests are relatively well known after centuries of intensive study of their reproductive biology, logging potential, regeneration, and diseases. In contrast, climbing plants, lianas and vines are relatively poorly understood in temperate forests.

The CLIMBERS Project was initiated by Robyn J. Burnham in an effort to establish baseline plots in which all climber plants are measured and identified to species. Plots can be compared across habitats, across geographic areas, and especially across time intervals. Data will be applied to a number of questions about temperate forests and their climbers, such as:

  • Does species diversity of climbers decrease with increasing latitude?
  • Do conifer forests consistently show fewer climbers than hardwood forests?
  • Has disturbance increased climber diversity and density?
  • Will increased carbon dioxide favor vines at all latitudes?
  • How important are invasive lianas in forested ecosystems at various latitudes?