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Nicholas Deacon, Biology


Casuarina equisetifolia, or Australian pine, is an invasive angiosperm species on the island of San Salvador, The Bahamas. It was originally found only in Southeast Asia and Australia. This tree is unique in that its leaves are much reduced and occur in whorls around the photosynthetic branchlets. It has been established that this tree contributes to the increased erosion of sediment on the dunes of San Salvador (Sealey 1998). This study investigated several possible factors contributing to differences in the understory plant community which may contribute to this erosion including leaf litter density, shading, and soil pH. It is hypothesized that dense Casuarina stands contribute to decreased understory species richness and diversity.