Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods


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Assessing Risk

Since the s, there has been growing interest in using this plant for bioethanol in California and the Pacific Northwest. Such attributes make this plant very suitable for cultivating in marginal and highly disturbed lands with poor soil. Deep fibrous root systems, slow decomposition rates and root biomass make P.

Paulownia tomentosa Thunb. It was introduced to the USA in the s and soon become very invasive, covering disturbed natural areas, forests and river banks [ 31 , 32 ]. The first record of P. The EU Regulation on invasive species did not include P. The species population has been recorded in urban areas, along railways, and near industrial sites in several European cities in Austria, SW Germany, Switzerland, Italy and SW Slovenia [ 34 , 35 , 36 ]. In Croatia, it has also been noticed at several sites near large cities, but currently does not show traits of invasiveness [ 37 ].

Timber biomass contains high cellulose and hemicellulose concentrations which are the main source of ethanol production [ 39 ]. Therefore, this species is highly preferred for the production of raw material for biofuel [ 40 ]. Studies have shown that the calorific value of P. Invasive weeds can be used as material for art activities. Invasive removal programmes of some weeds result in plants that are usually dismissed as unwanted.

However, if the act of weeding can be replaced into an act of harvesting, it changes the purpose and gives it a new meaning. Some plants have strong and flexible fibres that can be used for natural basketry [ 42 ]. Another attractive example of artistic approaches to invasive species is their use in art photography, in which they are used for making paper on which the photos of the shadows of rare or threatened plants are printed [ 43 ]. Some artists use invasive species [white mulberry, Morus alba L. Bean; multiflora rose, Rosa multiflora Thunb.

Sustainable or science art is a great tool to communicate complex scientific concepts, such as the complex relationships between native and invasive species, to the wider public. In that sense, IAS also can be used for public education on possible negative impacts of the spread of non-native species.


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Thus, attractive collages of invasive species prepared from invasive plant materials are a great example of art with an environmental message [ 45 ]. Insect pollination is an important ecosystem service to agriculture and horticulture [ 46 ]. In the past decade in Europe, studies have shown a decrease in wild pollinator diversity due to the use of pesticides, habitat degradation and climate change [ 47 ].

To help solve this problem, some invasive alien plant species can serve as pollination providers. Robinia pseudoacacia L.

Currently, in Europe, this species is not listed on the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern but is already considered invasive in most EU countries [ 50 ]. The flowering period occurs in late spring with fragrant white to yellow flowers. These flowers contain fruit nectar which attracts bee pollinators, from which they then produce a honey [ 53 ]. The liquid honey is transparent, and the aroma is fruity, light and refreshing [ 54 ]. Because this honey contains a higher ratio of fructose than glucose sugar, it slowly crystallises and can remain as a liquid for several months. This helps bees to survive all winter [ 55 ].

It grows mainly in riparian zones, disturbed areas, river banks and forest edges. On the other hand, I. Flowering starts in August and thereby fills the gap between the end of the summer and the autumnal crop season [ 62 ]. In the future, this plant may serve as a significant seasonal pollen and nectar resource for honeybees and other insects.

Nowadays we are increasingly faced with rapid land degradation due to anthropogenic intervention, pollution and pesticide use, deforestation, natural disasters and climate change. Land and soil reclamation is a slow process that often takes several years and greatly depends on conditions in the natural environment. Some invasive species can be used to control erosion on slopes or along edges of traffic lanes, for reclamation of landfill sites and mine spoils, the establishment of protective forest shelterbelts and the conversion of disturbed land back to its original state [ 63 , 64 ].

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Invasive Species

It is also suitable for afforestation of the arid sites, as its root system contributes to soil drainage, slowing water run-off. Due to its resistant but soft and easy wood, it contributes to soil stabilisation because it generates lower pressure on the soil [ 19 , 63 ]. Casuarina equisetifolia L.

Today it is one of the most invasive species in South Florida, self-seeding in disturbed areas [ 66 ]. Salt resistance and desiccation avoidance in countries such as Egypt, China and India turned out to be a benefit for the reforestation of coastlines [ 69 , 70 ]. Thus, C. Florida is often affected by hurricanes and heavy storms which erode sands offshore. Native species usually are not able to colonise the beach as rapidly after such natural disasters [ 71 ]. In the future, invasive species such as C. Introduced species may in some occasions act like ecosystem engineers and help with the re-establishment of a new habitat [ 15 ].

Crassostrea gigas Thunberg or the Pacific oyster is an oyster native to Asia that settles on rocky coastlines in dense aggregations. Since the eighteenth century in the European Wadden Sea, oyster fisheries overexploited the native oyster Ostrea edulis.

Invasive species impacts on US forests

This oyster is known for its high rates of growth and reproduction. It acts as an ecosystem engineer by colonising un-vegetated mudflats, generating new solid reefs [ 73 ]. Consequently, new reefs are increasing densities of native invertebrate species relative to native oyster beds [ 74 ]. Recently in Puerto Rico, a large area of the native forest was destroyed by farming.

In attempts to nurture back this degraded land, native trees do not have pioneering potential as soil and climate conditions are often poor and inhospitable. On the other hand, Spathodea campanulata P. Soon it became the prevailing tree on abandoned farmlands, but studies have shown that S. Several native forest fauna populations have recovered, such as the endangered frog Peltophryne lemur Cope and parrot Amazona vittata Boddaert [ 77 , 78 ]. The leaf litter in S. According to past experiences, these new forests remain dominated by alien trees for the first three or four decades.

Wood fibres are extracted from trees and used to make materials including paper. Among different tree species, some non-native and also invasive species have the potential to be used as a fibre source. Ailanthus altissima has potential as a raw material for papermaking [ 19 ]. It produces paper with properties similar to those of Eucalyptus globulus , the most common species used for this purpose in temperate regions [ 18 ]. This tree species has several desirable properties tolerance of poor soil, drought and pollution for use in degraded environments and so can be used simultaneously for paper production and aid in conservation issues.

Plants used in herbal medicine have been discovered and used in traditional practices since historic times.

For example, since , in Africa, weeds and exotic plants have been used as medicines by specialist and non-specialist healers [ 79 ], a practice which has been conducted for centuries. Some invasive alien plants are used by local inhabitants as a substitute for scarce indigenous plants.

Assessing the environmental impacts of invasive alien plants: a review of assessment approaches

A study conducted in the Waterberg District investigated medicinal usage of several invasive plants in the South African Republic. It revealed that Schinus molle L. These plants inhabit poor land sites and are adaptable to different environments and climate conditions. Due to its high regenerative capacity, they are difficult to eradicate. Therefore, these invasive alien plants can be utilised by communities to combat various diseases in humans, thereby reducing pressure on heavily harvested indigenous plants [ 80 ]. Ailanthus altissima, a plant known for its useful ecosystem services, can also be used for medicinal purposes.

It was planted as an ornamental tree throughout cities because of its resistance to pollution, fast growth and ability to thrive in nutrient-poor conditions [ 81 ]. Due to its rapid growth and prolific seed production, it quickly escaped cultivation and soon became one of the most invasive species in the world [ 82 ]. Ailanthus altissima produces toxins in its roots, bark and leaves which inhibit the growth of other nearby plants. Chemical analysis revealed the presence of alkaloids, terpenoids and aliphatic bioactive compounds as major constituents of the plant [ 83 ].

On the other hand, fresh plant parts can also have active medicinal usages, like fresh stem bark for the threat of diarrhoea and dysentery; root bark for heat ailments, epilepsy and asthma; fruits to threat ophthalmic diseases; and leaves used in lotions for seborrhoea and scabies treatments [ 86 ]. In Asia, extracts of A. Some invasive plants have, due to their chemical composition, herbicidal properties. Their high invasive potential is determined by many properties, such as tolerance for a wide span of ecological conditions and pollution; high reproduction, growth and regeneration rates; and a production of secondary metabolites with herbicidal and insecticidal activities.

Where Do Invasive Species Come From?

For example, the main component responsible for a herbicidal effect in A. Several studies have shown that ailanthone is toxic for many plant species, including weeds, crops and trees [ 9 , 87 ]. It is believed that, by producing and releasing ailanthone through its tissues largely through the roots, A. Considering its high phytotoxicity, ailanthone shows potential as a possible future natural product herbicide, although its nonselectivity observed in multiple studies would present an obstacle if not resolved in some way.

In addition, its rapid biodegradability could be a positive feature from the conservational aspect as it has a short, lasting effect in the environment but a negative one if possible applications as a herbicidal compound would be taken into account [ 88 ]. Many non-native species have been introduced for intentional ornamental and horticultural purposes e.

Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods
Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods
Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods
Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods
Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods
Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods Invasive Species: Threats, Ecological Impact and Control Methods

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