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Rhodes University (2020)

Quantifying ecosystem restoration recovery and restoration practice following the biological control of invasive alien macrophytes in Southern Africa

Motitsoe, Samuel Nkopane

Titre : Quantifying ecosystem restoration recovery and restoration practice following the biological control of invasive alien macrophytes in Southern Africa

Auteur : Motitsoe, Samuel Nkopane

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2020

Résumé
Invasive alien aquatic plants (IAAP) species are known to have deleterious effects on the freshwater ecosystems they invade. This includes both socio-economic and ecologically important ecosystem goods and services. Thus, IAAP species are declared a serious threat, second only to habitat modification for causing a loss of aquatic biodiversity. Three control methods have been widely applied to control IAAP species invasion globally ; mechanical, chemical and biological control. Both mechanical and chemical control methods are considered short-term and expensive, whereas biological control methods are regarded an effective and long-term solution for IAAP species control at the landscape level. But, little is known of the ecological recovery following the biological control of IAAP species, with mechanical control known to have had mixed success and chemical control to have non-targeted effects on aquatic ecosystems, causing harm to wildlife and human well-being. Biological control practitioners measure the success of biological control based on : (1) the biological control agents’ establishment and the negative impacts they impose on the targeted weed ; and (2) the weeds biomass reduction and an increase in native macrophytes species. Arguably, measures of biological control success have been subjective and variable across the globe. Although some field studies have demonstrated biological control success to have positive socio-economic returns, there is little literature on ecological benefits. Furthermore, there is limited understanding on ecosystem recovery and possible restoration efforts following the biological control IAAP species, as compared to alien weeds in terrestrial and riparian ecosystems. Thus, this thesis aimed to quantify the ecological recovery i.e. aquatic biodiversity, ecosystem processes and trophic interactions following the management of Salvinia molesta in freshwater ecosystems. The research employed a suite of Before-After Control-Impact mesocosm and field studies to investigate the response of aquatic microalgae, macroinvertebrates and their interactions (food web structure and function) during S. molesta infestation and after mechanical and biological control. The mesocosm experiment (Before invasion, During invasion & After control) showed that both aquatic microalgae and macroinvertebrate diversity indices were reliable biological indicators of S. molesta ecological impacts and recovery following control

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Page publiée le 22 janvier 2021