Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Controlling invasive alien shrub species, enhancing biodiversity and mitigating flood risk: a win-win-win situation in grazed floodplain plantations.

Abstract

The high nature conservation value of floodplain ecosystems is severely threatened by invasive alien species. Besides adversely affecting native biodiversity, these species also pose a major threat from a wider socio-ecological perspective (e.g. 'roughness' increases flood risk). Finding options to control dense shrub layers consisting of invasive alien species is therefore of high priority for multipurpose management. We studied cattle grazing impacts on the cover, composition and diversity of the herb and shrub layers in floodplain poplar plantations along the Tamiš river, Serbia. Non-grazed, moderately grazed, intensively grazed and resting place stands were sampled in five locations in three sampling points. Non-grazed stands had substantially higher cover of invasive alien shrub species (on average 65%) than moderately and intensively grazed stands, and resting places (5.17, 0.02 and 0.00%, respectively), but without considerable differences between the grazing intensity categories. The number of invasive alien species in the shrub layer decreased considerably from non-grazed to intensively grazed stands. Species composition in the herb layer changed from non-grazed to intensively grazed stands, while resting places differed substantially from the other categories. Total species richness, richness of native generalist herbaceous grassland species, and the cover of palatable grasses were the highest in moderately and intensively grazed stands. Our results suggest that cattle grazing in floodplains is effective at controlling invasive alien shrub species. Furthermore, continuous moderate or intensive grazing would contribute to multifunctional management of invaded floodplains by enhancing local biodiversity, reducing flood risk, and providing additional grazing areas for the local community.