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Wetlands

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1285–1298 | Cite as

Dynamics of Ludwigia hexapetala Invasion at three Spatial Scales in a Regulated River

  • Meghan J. Skaer Thomason
  • Brenda J. GrewellEmail author
  • Michael D. Netherland
General Wetland Science

Abstract

Management of riverine ecosystems often requires mitigation of alien plant invasions. Understanding how environmental variation within watersheds influences distribution and spread of invasive plants is essential for restoration of impacted ecological functions. Ludwigia hexapetala, an emergent macrophyte from South America, has aggressively invaded wetlands in many regulated rivers. Its clonal fragments disperse by hydrochory, but factors associated with population expansion are unknown. In a four-year study, we measured the distribution and abundance of L. hexapetala and associated environmental variables at three spatial scales in the Russian River, California. Results suggest individual population patches expanded where available light and aqueous phosphorus were somewhat elevated relative to uninvaded areas. Invaded patches did not expand unabated; greatest expansion occurred in the middle river (up to 37%) and lower river (up to 88%). In contrast, up to 20% contraction of invasive patches occurred locally above seasonal instream impoundments. At reach and watershed region scales, increasing variability in hydrologic variables correlated with patch structure and spatial dynamics of the invasion. L. hexapetala was most abundant in areas with high relative variation in flow. These findings provide the foundation for development of spatially-prioritized integrated hydrologic and invasive plant management strategies that could improve ecological restoration outcomes.

Keywords

Flow variability Invasive plants Ludwigia hexapetala Riverine wetlands Russian River Plant spatial pattern 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Linda Nelson and Dr. Al Cofrancesco, US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Aquatic Plant Control Research Program, Vicksburg, Mississippi for supporting this study. M. Skaer Thomason received support from the USDA-ARS Pathways Program for graduate students, and a USDA post-doctoral appointment. We thank Rebecca Drenovsky for comments that improved the manuscript, Caryn J. Futrell for chemical laboratory analyses, Christopher McCort for advice on statistical analyses, and Sonoma County Water Agency for technical advice and access to sites. Maria Iannucci, Juan Mejia, Bailey Morrison, Alex Pluchino, Zac Smith, and Rachel Stump assisted in the field and laboratory.

Supplementary material

13157_2018_1053_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1367 kb)

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Copyright information

© US Government 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit, Department of Plant Sciences MS-4University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Center for Aquatic and Invasive PlantsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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