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Exotic invasive knotweeds (Fallopiaspp.) negatively affect native plant and invertebrate assemblages in European riparian habitats

Biological Conservation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.12.009
  • Invasive Plant
  • Riparian Ecosystems
  • Ecosystem Impact
  • Feeding Guilds
  • Invertebrate Biomass
  • Morphospecies Richness
  • Biology
  • Ecology


Abstract Invasive plants are, simply by occupying a large amount of space in invaded habitats, expected to impose a significant impact on the native vegetation and their associated food webs. However, little is known about the impact of invasive plants both on native vegetation and on different invertebrate feeding guilds at the habitat level. Yet, studies addressing multiple trophic levels, e.g. plant species, herbivores, predators and detrivores, are likely to yield additional insight into how and under which conditions invasive weeds alter ecosystem structures and processes. We set out to assess whether plant species richness and invertebrate assemblages in European riparian habitats invaded by exotic knotweeds ( Fallopia spp.) differed from those found in native grassland- or bush-dominated riparian habitats, which are both potentially threatened by knotweed invasion. Our findings suggest that riparian habitats invaded by knotweeds support lower numbers of plant species and lower overall abundance and morphospecies richness of invertebrates, compared to native grassland-dominated and bush-dominated habitats. Total invertebrate abundance and morphospecies richness in Fallopia-invaded riparian habitats were correlated with native plant species richness, suggesting that there is a link between the replacement of native plant species by exotic Fallopia species and the reduction in overall invertebrate abundance and morphospecies richness. Moreover, biomass of invertebrates sampled in grassland and bush-dominated habitats was almost twice as high as that in Fallopia-invaded habitats. Large-scale invasion by exotic Fallopia species is therefore likely to seriously affect biodiversity and reduce the quality of riparian ecosystems for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals whose diets are largely composed of arthropods.

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