Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Poa annua L. in the maritime Antarctic: an overview.

Abstract

Poa annua is the only flowering plant species that has established a breeding population in the maritime Antarctic, through repeated anthropogenic introduction. The first appearance of this species in the Antarctic was observed in 1953. Annual bluegrass inhabits mainly anthropogenic sites, but recently has entered tundra communities. The functioning of P. annua in the Antarctic could not have been possible without adaptations that enable the plants to persist in the specific climatic conditions typical for this zone. Poa annua is highly adaptable to environmental stress and unstable habitats: huge phenotypic and genotypic variability, small size, plastic life cycle (life-history types ranging from annual to perennial forms). The spreading of P. annua in the Antarctic Peninsula region is a classic example of the expansion process following anthropogenic introduction of an invasive species, and illustrates the dangers to Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems that are associated with increasing human traffic.