Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Succession of macrofaunal communities and environmental properties along a gradient of smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora invasion stages.

Abstract

The exotic species smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) is recognized as an important invasive species in China, introduced about 40 years ago. The consistent smooth cordgrass invasion significantly modified the coastal ecosystem. Understanding the ecological succession and mechanisms of wetland soil ecosystems is essential for biological conservation after the landscape change resulting from the smooth cordgrass invasion. In this study, five different invasion stages of a 16-year smooth cordgrass invasion sequence were identified in a coastal wetland as no invasion, initial invasion, young invasion, mature invasion, and senescing invasion. The succession of macrofaunal communities and environments were investigated along the gradient of invasion stages. The infauna decreased, and the epifauna increased along the invasion sequence. The significant differences of the communities were detected among the mud flats experiencing different invasion stages. The initial and young invasion stages of smooth cordgrass possibly promote the macrofaunal biodiversity, but biodiversity decreased at mature and senescing invasion stages. The ecological effect of smooth cordgrass invasion on macrofauna depended on the species' traits and the invasion stage. The environmental properties co-varied with invasion stages, and varied significantly among selected habitats. Total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen, and the carbon-nitrogen ratio (C/N) strongly related to the smooth cordgrass coverage, stem density, and height. C/N was identified as the key factor for shaping the environment by principal components analysis, and TOC for regulating the macrofaunal community by canonical correspondence analysis. The succession of macrofaunal communities should be considered as a comprehensive response to the variations on environmental properties co-varying with smooth cordgrass invasion in coastal wetlands.