Biodiv Sci ›› 2004, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (2): 280-289.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2004034

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Ecological consequences and management of Spartina spp. invasions in coastal ecosystems

CHEN Zhong-Yi, LI Bo, CHEN Jia-Kuan*   

  1. Ministry of Education key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Enginering,Institute of Biodiversity Science,Fudan University,Shanghai 200433
  • Received:2003-05-20 Revised:2004-01-09 Online:2004-03-20 Published:2004-03-20
  • Contact: CHEN Jia-Kuan

Abstract: Biological invasions, a significant component of global environmental change, can result in serious economic and ecological consequences. Assessing the ecological impacts of invasive plants is one of the most important issues in the study of biological invasion ecology. This paper reviews the ecological consequences of Spartina spp. invasions in the coastal ecosystems of the world, and discusses strategies for controlling their further range expansion. The genus Spartina consists of 14 species, most of which grow in coastal areas. Half of the species of the genus have successfully invaded intertidal ecosystems in coastal areas or estuaries of the world. Because these species often form dense shoot populations under favourable conditions, they can potentially alter the physical conditions of the ecosystems they invade, and have the potential to exclude native plants by competition, which in turn influences benthic fauna, and eventually results in elimination of critical foraging habitat for migratory shorebirds. Unfortunately, arresting and reversing the invasion of Spartina spp. may become infeasible once these species have spread and become established. Therefore, immediate and aggressive actions need to be taken to prevent further degradation and loss of the natural ecological structures and functions of coastal ecosystems, caused by Spartina spp. invasions. The most effective actions are to prevent Spartina spp. from invading new habitats or eradicate populations that have been recently established.