, 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


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.


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



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)


  1. Beauchamp VB, Stromberg JC (2007) Flow regulation of the Verde River, Arizona encourages Tamarix recruitment but has minimal effect on Populus and Salix stand density. Wetlands 27:381–389.[381:FROTVR]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  2. Beechie TJ, Sear DA, Olden JD et al (2010) Process-based principles for restoring river ecosystems. BioScience 60:209–222. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Behrens DK, Bombardelli FA, Largier JL, Twohy E (2013) Episodic closure of the tidal inlet at the mouth of the Russian River - a small bar-built estuary in California. Geomorphology 189:66–80. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Best MD, Mantai KE (1978) Growth of Myriophyllum: sediment or lake water as the source of nitrogen and phosphorus. Ecology 59:1075–1080. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biggs BJF (1996) Hydraulic habitat of plants in streams. Regulated Rivers: Research & Management 12:131–144.<131::AID-RRR385>3.0.CO;2-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bornette G, Tabacchi E, Hupp C et al (2008) A model of plant strategies in fluvial hydrosystems. Freshwater Biology 53:1692–1705. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carignan R, Kalff J (1980) Phosphorus sources for aquatic weeds: water or sediments? Science 207:987–989. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Carter JL, Resh VH (2010) Pacific coast rivers of the Coterminus United States. In: Benke AC, Cushing CE (eds) Field Guide to the Rivers of North America. Elsevier Academic Press, Amsterdam, pp 236–257Google Scholar
  9. Catford JA, Downes BJ, Gippel CJ, Vesk PA (2011) Flow regulation reduces native plant cover and facilitates exotic invasion in riparian wetlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:432–442. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Catford JA, Morris WK, Vesk PA et al (2014) Species and environmental characteristics point to flow regulation and drought as drivers of riparian plant invasion. Diversity and Distributions 20:1084–1096. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chambers PA, Prepas EE, Bothwell ML, Hamilton HR (1989) Roots versus shoots in nutrient uptake by aquatic macrophytes in flowing waters. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 46:435–439. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cox MH, Su GW, Constantz J (2007) Heat, chloride, and specific conductance as ground water tracers near streams. Ground Water 45:187–195. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dandelot S, Verlaque R, Dutartre A, Cazaubon A (2005) Ecological, dynamic and taxonomic problems due to Ludwigia (Onagraceae) in France. Hydrobiologia 551:131–136. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davies PM, Naiman RJ, Warfe DM et al (2014) Flow–ecology relationships: closing the loop on effective environmental flows. Marine and Freshwater Research 65:133. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Décamps H, Planty-Tabacchi AM, Tabacchi E (1995) Changes in the hydrological regime and invasions by plant species along riparian systems of the Adour River, France. Regulated Rivers: Research & Management 11:23–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diez JM, Buckley HL, Case BS et al (2009) Interacting effects of management and environmental variability at multiple scales on invasive species distributions. Journal of Applied Ecology 46:1210–1218. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dong X, Grimm NB, Ogle K, Franklin J (2016) Temporal variability in hydrology modifies the influence of geomorphology on wetland distribution along a desert stream. Journal of Ecology 104:18–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fox J, Weisberg S (2011) An R companion to applied regression, 2nd edn. Sage Publishing, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  19. Fremier AK, Talley TS (2009) Scaling riparian conservation with river hydrology: lessons from blue elderberry along four California rivers. Wetlands 29:150–162. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. García-Álvarez A, van Leeuwen CHA, Luque CJ et al (2015) Internal transport of alien and native plants by geese and ducks: an experimental study. Freshwater Biology 60:1316–1329. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Glover R, Drenovsky RE, Futrell CJ, Grewell BJ (2015) Clonal integration in Ludwigia hexapetala under different light regimes. Aquatic Botany 122:40–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Greene SL (2014) A roadmap for riparian invasion research. River Research and Applications 30:663–669. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grewell BJ, Netherland MD, Skaer Thomason MJ (2016a) Establishing research and management priorities for invasive water primroses (Ludwigia spp.). US Army Corps of Engineers, Aquatic Plant Control Research Program, Technical Report ERCD/EL TR-16-2, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USAGoogle Scholar
  24. Grewell BJ, Skaer Thomason MJ, Futrell CJ et al (2016b) Trait responses of invasive aquatic macrophyte congeners: colonizing diploid outperforms polyploid. AoB Plants 8:plw014. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Hastings A, Cuddington K, Davies KF et al (2005) The spatial spread of invasions: new developments in theory and evidence. Ecology Letters 8:91–101. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haury J, Druel A, Cabral T et al (2014) Which adaptations of some invasive Ludwigia spp. (Rosidae, Onagraceae) populations occur in contrasting hydrological conditions in western France? Hydrobiologia 737:45–56. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hussner A, Stiers I, Verhofstad MJJM, Bakker ES, Grutters BMC, Haury J, van Valkenburg JLCH, Brundu G, Newman J, Clayton JS, Anderson LWJ, Hofstra D (2017) Management and control methods of invasive alien freshwater aquatic plants: A review. Aquatic Botany 136:112–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Khattree R, Naik DN (2000) Applied Multivariate Statistics with SAS Software. SAS Press, Wiley, Carey, North Carolina, USAGoogle Scholar
  29. Kueffer C, Pyšek P, Richardson DM (2013) Integrative invasion science: model systems, multi-site studies, focused meta-analysis and invasion syndromes. New Phytologist 200:615–633. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lacoul P, Freedman B (2006) Environmental influences on aquatic plants in freshwater ecosystems. Environmental Reviews 14:89–136. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lambert E, Dutartre A, Coudreuse J, Haury J (2010) Relationships between the biomass production of invasive Ludwigia species and physical properties of habitats in France. Hydrobiologia 656:173–186. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lumley T (2015) leaps: regression subset selection. R package version 2.9.
  33. Mac Nally R, Quinn GP (1998) Symposium introduction: The importance of scale in ecology. Australian Journal of Ecology 23:1–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Manning DJ, Mann JA, White SK et al (2005) Steelhead emigration in a seasonal impoundment created by an inflatable rubber dam. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 25:1239–1255. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McCune B, Mefford MJ (2011) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data. MjM Software, Gleneden BeachGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller A (2002) Subset selection in regression. Chapman and Hall/CRC, Boca RatonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mount JF (1995) California Rivers and Streams: The Conflict Between Fluvial Process and Land Use. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  38. Naiman RJ, Décamps H, McClain ME (2005) Riparia: Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Streamside Communities. Elsevier Academic Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  39. O’Neill BJ, Thorp JH (2011) A simple channel complexity metric for analyzing river ecosystem responses. River Systems 19:327–335. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Okada M, Grewell BJ, Jasieniuk M (2009) Clonal spread of invasive Ludwigia hexapetala and L. grandiflora in freshwater wetlands of California. Aquatic Botany 91:123–129. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olden JD, Poff NL (2003) Redundancy and the choice of hydrologic indices for characterizing streamflow regimes. River Research and Applications 19:101–121. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pan JJ, Price JS (2001) Fitness and evolution in clonal plants: the impact of clonal growth. Evolutionary Ecology 15:583–600. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pauchard A, Shea K (2006) Integrating the study of non-native plant invasions across spatial scales. Biological Invasions 8:399–413. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Perkins DW, Scott ML, Naumann T (2015) Abundance of invasive, non-native riparian herbs in relation to river regulation. River Research and Applications. 32:1279–1288. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Planty-Tabacchi A-M, Tabacchi E, Naiman RJ et al (1996) Invasibility of species-rich communities in riparian zones. Conservation Biology 10:598–607. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Poff NL (2014) Rivers of the Anthropocene? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12:427–427. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Poff NL, Allan JD, Bain MB et al (1997) The natural flow regime. BioScience 47:769–784. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Poff NL, Olden JD, Merritt DM, Pepin DM (2007) Homogenization of regional river dynamics by dams and global biodiversity implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104:5732–5737. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pyšek P, Hulme PE (2005) Spatio-temporal dynamics of plant invasions: linking pattern to process. Ecoscience 12:302–315. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. R Core Team (2016) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
  51. Rejmánková E (1992) Ecology of creeping macrophytes with special reference to Ludwigia peploides (H.B.K.) raven. Aquatic Botany 43:283–299. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sand-Jensen K, Mebus JR (1996) Fine-scale patterns of water velocity within macrophyte patches in streams. Oikos 76:169–180. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Seavy NE, Gardali T, Golet GH et al (2009) Why climate change makes riparian restoration more important than ever: recommendations for practice and research. Ecological Restoration 27:330–338. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sonoma County Water Agency (2016) Fish habitat flows and water rights project draft environmental impact report. California State Clearinghouse No 2010092087.
  55. Tewksbury JJ, Anderson JGT, Bakker JD et al (2014) Natural History’s place in science and society. BioScience 64:300–310. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thouvenot L, Haury J, Thiebaut G (2013) A success story: water primroses, aquatic plant pests. Aquatic conservation: marine and freshwater. Ecosystems 23:790–803. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tickner DP, Angold PG, Gurnell AM, Mountford JO (2001) Riparian plant invasions: hydrogeomorphological control and ecological impacts. Progress in Physical Geography 25:22–52. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. US Department of Agriculture (2010) National Agricultural Imagery Program.
  59. US Geological Survey (2016) National Water Information System.
  60. Vannote RL, Minshall GW, Cummins KW et al (1980) The river continuum concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37:130–137. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Warfe DM, Hardie SA, Uytendaal AR et al (2014) The ecology of rivers with contrasting flow regimes: identifying indicators for setting environmental flows. Freshwater Biology 59:2064–2080. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yu F-H, Roiloa SR, Alpert P (2016) Global change, clonal growth, and biological invasions by plants. Frontiers in Plant Science. 7.

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

Personalised recommendations