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Conservation Ecology of Aquatic Plants

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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00250

Coverage of native plants is key factor influencing invasibility of freshwater ecosystems by exotic plants in China

Haihao Yu1, Ligong Wang1,  Chunhua Liu1,  Jun Xu2 and  Shufeng Fan1*
  • 1Wuhan University, China
  • 2Institute of Hydrobiology (CAS), China

Understanding the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the susceptibility of a community to invasion is beneficial to the prediction and management of invasive species and the conservation of native biodiversity. However, relationships between factors and invasibility of community have not been fully confirmed, and which factors are most associated with susceptibility of community to invasion were rarely studied. In this study, we investigated the species richness patterns in aquatic exotic and native plants and the relationships of exotic species richness with habitat and water environment factors in 262 aquatic plant communities in China. A total of 11 exotic plant species were recorded in our field survey. We found that there is neither a negative nor a positive relationship between aquatic exotic and native plant species richness. Aquatic exotic plant richness is negatively correlated with the relative coverage and biomass of native plants but positively correlated with total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations in the water. Native plant richness, native relative coverage, and native biomass were positively related to each other, while TP, TN, and COD were also positively related to each other. Native plant richness, native relative coverage and native biomass were each negatively correlated with all TP, TN and COD. In addition, biotic predictors rather than abiotic predictors accounted for more of the variation in exotic plant richness. Our results suggested that improving vegetation coverage and biodiversity of native plant is the most effective approach to prevent alien plant invasions and minimize their impacts in freshwater ecosystems.

Keywords: Biological invasion, Biodiversity, Aquatic vegetation, Eutrophication, global change

Received: 23 Aug 2017; Accepted: 12 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Peter I. Macreadie, Deakin University, Australia

Reviewed by:

Carl R. Gosper, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), Australia
Songlin Liu, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology (CAS), China  

Copyright: © 2018 Yu, Wang, Liu, Xu and Fan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Shufeng Fan, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China, fanran911@163.com