Can the native faunal communities be restored from removal of invasive plants in coastal ecosystems? A global meta-analysis.
Coastal ecosystems worldwide are being threatened by invasive plants in the context of global changes. However, how invasive plants influence native faunal communities and whether native faunal communities can recover following the invader removals/controls across global coastal ecosystems are still poorly understood. Here, we present the first global meta-analysis to quantify the impacts of Spartina species invasions on coastal faunal communities and further to evaluate the outcomes of Spartina species removals on faunal community recovery based on 74 independent studies. We found that invasive Spartina species generally decreased the biodiversity (e.g., species richness), but increased coastal faunal abundance (e.g., individual number) and fitness (e.g., biomass), though the effect on abundance was insignificant. The pattern of influence was strongly dependent on habitat types, faunal taxa, trophic levels, and feeding types. Specifically, Spartina species invasion of mudflats caused greater impacts than invasion of vegetated habitats. Insects and birds at higher trophic levels were strongly affected by invasive Spartina, indicating that invasive plant effects can cascade upward along the food chain. Additionally, impacts of Spartina invasions were more obvious on food specialists such as herbivores and carnivores. Furthermore, our analyses revealed that invader removals were overall beneficial for native faunal communities to recover from the displacement caused by Spartina invasions, but this recovery process depended on specific removal measure and time. For example, the long-term waterlogging had strong negative impacts on faunal recovery, so it should not be encouraged. Our findings suggest that invasive plants could have contrasting effects on functional responses of native faunal communities. Although invasive plant removals could restore native faunal communities, future functional restorations of invaded ecosystems should take the legacy effects of invasive species on native communities into account. These findings provide insightful implications for future scientific controls of invasive species and ecosystem restoration under intensifying global changes.