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Woody species invasion in the Rolling Pampa grasslands, Argentina

, : Woody species invasion in the Rolling Pampa grasslands, Argentina. Agriculture ecosystems and environment 88(3): 271-278

Information on the geographical distribution of plant invasion has been recorded in detail in some areas of the world; however, in large regions such as South America there are a few, if any, records of the spread of alien plants and invasive species and even less information about their effects on ecosystems at different levels of organization. This study examines the extent to which woody species introduced during the last centuries are invading the Rolling Pampa (which is typical of the entire region of the Argentina pampas) and discusses whether this invasion is related to the species' genetics or to environmental factors. All woody species were surveyed along landscape corridors (highways and intersecting secondary dirt roads and streams), as well as in farmed fields under three different tillage systems: zero tillage in the entire field for all crops in the rotation (where tillage was replaced by a presowing herbicide application), zero tillage for selected crops, and conventional tillage. Landscape corridors along the roads had been invaded by 40 woody species (mostly trees). On the farmed land, fields under the zero tillage farming system were invaded by seven woody species (three tree species and four shrubs). With zero tillage for select crops only, woody species richness was reduced to three (one tree and two shrub species). In the conventional tillage, there were only three invading species, all shrubs. In both the roadside and riparian corridors, the species with the highest constancy values were Gleditsia triacanthos L., Morus alba L., and Melia azedarach L. In both types of zero tillage farmed fields, M. alba was absent, but G. triacanthos and M. azedarach remained the species with the highest constancy values. Both genetic and ecological factors were important determinants for the invasion of the pampas by woody species. The woody invasion process has reached a point at which the pampean grasslands on the better-drained soils will no longer be restored to a grassland biome without human intervention.


DOI: 10.1016/s0167-8809(01)00209-2

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