A preliminary field trial to compare control techniques for invasive Berberis aquifolium in Belgian coastal dunes.
Non-native Berberis aquifolium is an invasive species in Belgian coastal dunes. With its strong clonal growth through suckers, this evergreen shrub outcompetes native species and affects dune succession. To prevent further secondary spread and mitigate its impact, there was an urgent need for knowledge on the effectiveness of control measures, both at the plant and habitat level. Here, we report on a first control experiment. Individual B. aquifolium clones were subjected to one of four treatments (manual uprooting, foliar herbicide application, stem cutting followed by herbicide or salt application), with regrowth being measured up to one year after treatment. We analyzed the relationship between kill rate, treatment, dune area, plant volume and number of plant stems using a generalized linear model. Berberis aquifolium plants proved most susceptible to foliar herbicide application (5% glyphosate solution), resulting in 88% (64%–97%) of the clones dying after treatment. The predicted kill rate decreased with an increasing number of stems under all treatments. We discuss the limitations of our experiment and the potential for actual field application of the different treatments. We present some guidelines for future control that may become further refined as experience builds up and we provide some recommendations for tackling invasive alien species in Atlantic dune ecosystems.