Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ecological impacts of megaprojects: species succession and functional composition.

Abstract

Land-use changes have huge impacts on natural vegetation, especially megaprojects, as the vegetation layer is destroyed in the course of construction works affecting the plant community composition and functionality. This large-scale disturbance might be a gateway for the establishment of invasive plant species, which can outcompete the natural flora. In contrast, species occurring in the area before the construction are not able to re-establish. In this study, we analyzed the impact of a pipeline construction on a wetland nature reserve located in northern Egypt. Therefore, we analyzed the plant species occurrence and abundance and measured each plant species' traits before the construction in 2017 as well as on multiple occasions up to 2 years after the construction had finished on altogether five sampling events. We found that the construction activity led to the establishment of an invasive species which previously did not occur in the area, namely, Imperata cylindrica, whereas five species (Ipomoea carnea, Pluchea dioscoridis, Polygonum equisetiforme, Tamarix nilotica, and Typha domingensis) could not re-establish after the disturbance. The functionality of ecosystems assessed via the analysis of plant functional traits (plant height, specific leaf area, and leaf dry matter content) changed within species over all sampling events and within the community showing a tendency to approximate pre-construction values. Functional dispersion and Rao's quadratic diversity were higher after the megaproject than before. These findings are important to capture possible re-establishment and recovery of natural vegetation after construction and raise awareness to the impact of megaprojects, especially in areas which are high priority for conservation.