Biological invasions in the Cape Floristic Region: history, current patterns, impacts, and management challenges

John R. Wilson, Mirijam Gaertner, Charles L. Griffiths, Ian Kotzé, David C. Le Maitre, Sean M. Marr, Mike D. Picker, Dian Spear, Louise Stafford, David M. Richardson, Brian W. van Wilgen and Andrew Wannenburgh

in Fynbos

Published in print September 2014 | ISBN: 9780199679584
Published online October 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191791949 | DOI:
Biological invasions in the Cape Floristic Region: history, current patterns, impacts, and management challenges

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The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is the most invaded terrestrial area in South Africa in terms of the conspicuous prominence of (mainly woody) invasive plants, the area invaded as surveyed, and the numbers of animal invaders. This chapter provides a background to the history, current distribution patterns, and possible futures of introduced and invasive alien species in the CFR, and details how the impacts and management of biological invasions have changed through time. Invasions in the region are dominated by plants — an estimated 21% of the untransformed area of the CFR has been invaded by introduced plants, with strandveld, alluvial vegetation, and wetlands particularly affected. There has been significant government investment into invasive species management in the CFR (through the Working for Water Programme), focussing largely on known transformer species, but in only a few instances (specifically where classical biological control has been used successfully) have there been real reductions in the size of the problem. Future progress will require greater engagement with the public, better implementation, occasionally a more pragmatic approach, e.g. to deal with novel ecosystems, and an understanding of the risks of all types of species translocations. But for many groups little is known about which species are invading, what impacts they cause, and what the major future risks are likely to be, i.e., the invasion debt. A consolidated list of alien animals and plants in the region, categorized wherever possible according to Blackburn’s unified framework, is provided.

Keywords: biological invasion; introduced plant; invasive alien species; distribution pattern; transformer species; novel ecosystem; invasion debt

Chapter.  16477 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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