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Plant invasions

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The main objectives of the early plant invasion activities were to document the extent of invasions (see Monitoring), identify priority risk species and compile baseline information on these species (e.g. Cinnamomum verum, Clidemia hirta, Acacia mangium, and creepers), and establish early detection and control programmes. Seychelles was also instrumental in the first regional-scale efforts to coordinate invasive plant species management among Western Indian Ocean states funded by the Forestry Department of FAO (reports). For a recent update see Baret et al. (2013).


Once the main invasive alien plants were identified, the main research and management interest shifted towards understanding and mitigating negative effects of invasive plants (especially woody species) on ecosystem processes. With root trenching experiments we showed that the dominant alien tree, Cinnamomum verum shapes juvenile regeneration patterns as an ecosystem engineer through strong root competition in the topsoil layer (Kueffer et al. 2007), with important consequences for habitat restoration (Kueffer et al. 2010). We also found evidence that phosphorus-poor soils attenuate effects of invasive trees, including the N-fixing Falcataria moluccana, on soil properties (Kueffer et al. 2008) and subsequently on plant regeneration (Kueffer 2010); in strong contrast to effects of Falcataria on nitrogen-poor soils in Hawaii.


More recently, we gained an interested in the role of alien species for plant-animal interactions such as seed dispersal or pollination. We demonstrated for instance that average fruit quality is similar between native and invasive woody plants, but the most extreme fruit characteristics were found among invasive species (e.g. high sugar or lipid content) (Kueffer et al. 2009). We also gained a better understanding of how alien plants and insects affect pollination of native plants (see Plant-Animal Interactions).

Documenting and managing plant invasions

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