Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The effects of extreme climate on the invasive plant Gutenbergia cordifolia: implications for its future management in savannah ecosystems.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to assess the effects of varying water stress levels on morphological and physiological parameters of an invasive plant Gutenbergia cordifolia. The assessment was conducted in the screenhouse at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology following a completely randomized design (CRD). Both morphological and physiological parameters were variable under water stress levels. While the maximum (159 cm) and minimum (9 cm) plant heights for G. cordifolia were observed under flood and drought water stress respectively, its maximum root collar diameter of 5 mm and the minimum of 1.3 mm were observed under moderate flood and drought water stress respectively. Generally, the number of leaves was highest under moderate flood stress (194 leaves/plant), and lowest under drought stress (13 leaves/plant). Similarly, the largest and smallest leaf surface area of 9 × 103 and 1 × 103mm2 were observed under flood and drought water stress respectively due to G. cordifolia's tendency to retain water when exposed to water stress through a reduction in number of leaves and leaf surface area when under drought stress condition. While a decrease in leaf chlorophyll was observed across water stress levels with the lowest chlorophyll levels of 0.02 under drought water stress, an increase in leaf anthocyanin levels (0.29 Abs g.DM-1) was observed particularly under flood stress due to increased chlorophyll breakdown and plants' water stress, respectively. This study informs that extreme climatic events such as excessive floods will likely facilitate invasions by G. cordifolia leading to decreased biotic resistance of native communities in savanna rangelands. Efforts to manage G. cordifolia's effects in a changing climate must therefore include the development of strategies and action plans that account for catastrophic events like floods and drought.