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- PublicationManaging Invasive Alien PlantsThe presence of invasive alien plant species across Ireland and Europe has increased significantly in the past few decades. The impacts of these invasions vary but they can lead to major modifications in ecosystem functioning. This research project has broadened our understanding of the ecological traits, strategies and impacts of invasive species. This information can be used in the management of invasive plants and help to inform legislation that might need to be introduced or strengthened.
- PublicationBiological invaders: Always the bad guys?Invasive species are recognized as one of the major environmental problems worldwide and responsible for a myriad of impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem processes. Although many invasive species exert a range of detrimental effects a more nuanced approach is now emerging, which acknowledges that they can make a positive or beneficial contribution (Schlaepfer et al., 2011; Vimercati et al., 2020, 2022; Mantoani et al., 2022). Clearly, a positive impact may not always be beneficial (Vimercati et al., 2022) and nutrient enrichment due the introduction of an alien nitrogen-fixing plant species, for instance, could result in the loss of important resident species with low nutrient requirements.
7Scopus© Citations 1
- PublicationGunnera tinctoria invasions increase, not decrease, earthworm abundance and diversityInvasive plants often modify soil biotic communities through changes in soil physicochemical characteristics or the amount and/or quality of litter inputs. We assessed the impacts of Gunnera tinctoria invasions on soil and the earthworm community, on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland. We compared replicated (n = 5) areas invaded by G. tinctoria with uninvaded semi-natural grasslands, as well as with areas subjected to mechanical removal or herbicide treatment. Modifications in physiochemical properties included lower soil temperatures and higher soil pH during the summer in invaded areas, yet little effect on C and N stocks, or soil moisture. Marked differences in litter were observed, however, with invaded areas having c. 20-fold higher (above-ground) litter input than uninvaded ones, as well as lower C:N ratio (17 vs. 29). This was associated with a significantly higher overall abundance and biomass of earthworms in invaded plots (375 individuals m–2, 115 g biomass m–2), compared to the uninvaded control (130 individuals m–2, 45 g biomass m–2), with removal treatments having intermediate values. Earthworm communities comprised 10 species, typical for Irish grasslands, dominated by the common endogeic species Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Aporrectodea rosea. Both earthworm species richness and Shannon diversity were significantly higher in invaded areas, but only in spring samples. Based on this new information, plant invaders may increase the abundance and diversity of earthworms, mainly due to much larger litter inputs, increased soil pH and possibly lower soil temperatures in the summer typical of Irish grasslands.
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