Skip to main content

Factors contributing to the removal of a marine grass invader (Spartina anglica) and subsequent potential for habitat restoration

Abstract

Our goal is to understand how removal regime and habitat type interact to influence removal success of a marine plant invader and the subsequent potential for restoration. In particular, we investigate the management program designed to eradicate the English cordgrass,Spartina anglica C. E. Hubbard, in marine intertidal habitats of Puget Sound, Washington, United States. Observational and manipulative experiments were used to measure the regrowth (vegetative growth), reinvasion (seedling recruitment), and restoration potential (return to native condition) of invaded habitats. Removal regime (consistent: yearly removal; interrupted: yearly removal with the last year missed) and habitat type (low salinity marsh, mudflat, cobble beach, and high salinity marsh sites) were considered. The response to removal regime was dramatic. Under consistent removal, cordgrass slowly declined but under interrupted removal, there was substantial regrowth of the invader. This pattern results from the resiliency of belowground biomass and the subsequent high aboveground productivity and seedling growth ofS. anglica. We also found that removal success depended on differences among sites that represent different habitat types. Cordgrass regrowth and reinvasion were substantially higher in the low salinity marsh sites where soils have lower salinity. We also found that at the low salinity marsh sites, some restoration of native plants and soil conditions was evident. At mudflat, cobble beach, and high salinity marsh sites, colonization of native vascular plants and algae not normally present, in the absence of the invasion, occurred. Whether these habitats will eventually revert back to the pre-invasion conditions over a longer period of time is unknown.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature Cited

  1. Bertness, M. 1991. Zonation ofSpartina patens andSpartina alterniflora in a New England salt marsh.Ecology 72:138–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Crooks, J. 2002. Characterizing ecosystem-level consequences of biological invasions: The role of ecosystem engineers.Oikos 97:153–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Daehler, C. C. andD. R. Strong. 1996. Status, prediction and prevention of introduced cordgrass,Spartina spp. invasions in Pacific estuaries, USA.Biological Conservation 78:51–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Goss-Custard, J. D. andM. E. Moser. 1988. Rates of change in the numbers of Dunlin,Calidris alpina, wintering in British estuaries in relation to the spread ofSpartina anglica.Journal of Applied Ecology 25:95–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Hacker, S. D., D. Heimer, C. E. Hellquist, T. G. Reeder, B. Reeves, T. Riordan, andM. N. Dethier. 2001. A marine plant (Spartina anglica) invades widely varying habitats: Potential mechanisms of invasion and control.Biological Invasions 3: 211–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hobbs, R. J. andS. E. Humphries. 1995. An integrated approach to the ecology and management of plant invasions.Conservation Biology 9:761–770.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Jones, C. G., J. H. Lawton, andM. Shachak. 1994. Organisms as ecosystem engineers.Oikos 689:373–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Mack, R. N., D. Simberloff, W. M. Lonsdale, H. Evans, M. Clout, andR. A. Bazzaz. 2000. Biotic invasions: Causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control.Ecological Applications 10:689–710.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Maricle, B. R. andR. W. Lee. 2002. Aerenchyma development and oxygen transport in the estuarine cordgrassesSpartina alterniflora andS. anglica.Aquatic Botany 74:109–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Myers, J. H., D. Simberloff, A. M. Kuris, andJ. R. Carey. 2000. Eradication revisited: Dealing with exotic species.Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15:316–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Naylor, R. L. 2000. The economics of alien species invasions, p. 241–259.In H. A. Mooney and R. J. Hobbs (eds.). Invasive Species in a Changing World. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Parker, I. M., D. Simberloff, W. M. Lonsdale, K. Goodell, M. Wonham, P. M. Kareiva, M. H. Williamson, B. Von Holle, P. B. Moyle, J. E. Byers, andL. Goldwasser. 1999. Impacts: Toward a framework for understanding the ecological effects of invaders.Biological Invasions 1:3–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Ranwell, D. S. 1967. World resources ofSpartina townsendii and economic use ofSpartina marshlands.Journal of Applied Ecology 4:239–256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Rejmanek, M. andM. J. Pitcairn. 2002. When is eradication of exotic pest plants a realistic goal, p. 249–253.In C. R. Veitch and M. N. Clout (eds.). Turning the Tide: The Eradication of Invasive Species. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Scott, R., T. V. Callaghan, and G. J. Lawson. 1990.Spartina as a biofuel, p. 48–51.In A. J. Gray and R. E. M. Benham (eds.),Spartina anglica—A Research Review. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology No. 2, London, U.K.

  16. Simberloff, D. 1997. Eradication, p. 221–228.In D. Simberloff, D. C. Schmitz, and T. C. Brown (eds.), Strangers in Paradise—Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Taylor, M. C. andE. M. Burrows. 1968. Studies of the biology ofSpartina in the Dee estuary, Cheshire.Journal of Ecology 56: 795–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Thompson, J. D. 1991. The biology of an invasive plant: What makesSpartina anglica so successful?BioScience 41:393–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Zavaleta, E. S., R. J. Hobbs, andH. A. Mooney. 2001. Viewing invasive species removal in a whole-ecosystem context.Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16:454–459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Sources of Unpublished Materials

  1. Dethier, M. N. and S. D. Hacker. Unpublished Data. University of Washington, Department of Biology and Friday Harbor Laboratories, 620 University Road, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250.

  2. Hacker, S. D. and M. N. Dethier. Unpublished data.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sally D. Hacker.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Reeder, T.G., Hacker, S.D. Factors contributing to the removal of a marine grass invader (Spartina anglica) and subsequent potential for habitat restoration. Estuaries 27, 244–252 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02803381

Download citation

Keywords

  • Habitat Type
  • Belowground Biomass
  • Tiller Number
  • Soil Redox Potential
  • Removal Plot