Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Invasive plant species can enhance coastal ecosystems; better to have non-native habitat than none at all

Leave a Comment

Posted: 17 Jul 2017 12:08 PM PDT  read full ScienceDaily article here

Invasive plant species like seaweed can provide vital ecosystem functions in coastal areas where native habitats such as salt marshes and oyster reefs have severely declined. A new study finds that invasive species could be used to offset the loss of native habitats that provide storm protection, food production and other benefits to billions of people.

With the progressive decline of coastal habitats worldwide, our findings suggest it’s better to have a non-native habitat than no habitat at all,“…

On otherwise barren mudflats, habitat-forming invasive species such as nonnative seaweed can offset the loss of foundation species and provide vital ecosystem services, such as storm protection and food production, on which nearly half the human population depends.

…”Conservation practitioners are investing millions of dollars to eradicate invasive species, but what if some of those invasive species are actually benefiting native species and ecosystem services?” said Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who co-authored the study. “Our experimental study shows for the first time that this can be the case.”

Conservation and restoration practitioners must now begin the hard conversation about changing their black-and-white picture of invasive species impacts,” Silliman said….

…”There needs to be more comprehensive and empirical assessment of invasive species’ effects before the conclusion of negative impacts is assigned,” said Ramus.

Aaron P. Ramus, Brian R. Silliman, Mads S. Thomsen, Zachary T. Long. An invasive foundation species enhances multifunctionality in a coastal ecosystem. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201700353 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1700353114

View all articles

Comments are closed