The impact of invasive knotweed species (Reynoutria spp.) on the environment: review and research perspectives

Abstract

I conducted an exhaustive literature review on Japanese knotweeds s.l. (including Reynoutria japonica, R. sachalinensis and R. ×bohemica), especially on the effects of these invasive plants on biodiversity and ecological processes or the chemical and physical characteristics of invaded habitats. A total of 44 studies have been published, the earliest in 2005, in peer-reviewed journals. Most studies were conducted in Europe, the others in the USA. Invasive knotweeds have major negative impacts on native plants, while the abundant litter produced and the deep rhizome system alter soil chemistry to the benefit of the invaders. However, the effects of knotweeds on other groups of species vary, with a combination of losers (soil bacteria, most arthropods and gastropods, some frogs and birds) and winners (most fungi, detritivorous arthropods, aquatic shredders, a few birds). This literature review highlights significant knowledge gaps of the effects of knotweeds on biodiversity (vertebrates) and ecological processes (ecohydrology). To what extent knotweed invasions have an impact on the population dynamics of native plants and animals on a regional to national scale remains to be verified. Although there is some evidence that knotweed invasions have negative effects on the environment, the research to date remains modest and a more extensive effort is needed to better define the environmental impacts of these plant invaders.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. I thank two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft.

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Lavoie, C. The impact of invasive knotweed species (Reynoutria spp.) on the environment: review and research perspectives. Biol Invasions 19, 2319–2337 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1444-y

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Ecohydrology
  • Fallopia
  • Generic impact scoring system
  • Reynoutria japonica
  • Reynoutria sachalinensis
  • Reynoutria ×bohemica