Alterations of Disturbance Regimes by Plant and Animal Invaders

  • Mirijam GaertnerEmail author
  • David C. Le Maitre
  • Karen J. Esler
Part of the Invading Nature - Springer Series in Invasion Ecology book series (INNA, volume 12)


Disturbances, or changes in disturbance regimes, can promote invasions, but invasives can also be seen as drivers of disturbances. Non-native species can either change an existing disturbance regime or introduce disturbance regimes that are novel to the invaded system. Changes in disturbance regimes can be triggered if non-natives act as biotic disturbance agents, if non-natives interact with physical forces of disturbance, or by the introduction of novel functional traits. Reinforcing feedback loops between the disturbance and the non-native species often promote the non-native species to the disadvantage of the native species, which can result in losses of biodiversity, altered ecosystem functioning, and a changed capacity to provide ecosystem services. Changes in disturbance regimes because of invasions and the resulting ecological impacts are well established. However, the effects of changed disturbance regimes on regulating ecosystem services have so far received little attention. This chapter describes the key aspects of disturbance regimes that can be altered by invasions and gives examples of different types of regulating ecosystem services affected by these alterations. The chapter focuses on terrestrial ecosystems, covering a wide range of different taxa.


Carbon sequestration Disturbance Ecological impacts Feedback loops Fire regimes Water flow regulation Wild boar 



M. Gaertner and K. Esler acknowledge support from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology and the Working for Water programme through their collaborative research project on “Research for Integrated Management of Invasive Alien Species.” D. Le Maitre thanks the Operational Support and Planning Directorate of Natural Resource Management programmes, Department of Environmental Affairs for funding the research which is synthesised in this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirijam Gaertner
    • 1
    Email author
  • David C. Le Maitre
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karen J. Esler
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Natural Resources and the EnvironmentCSIRStellenboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Centre for Invasion BiologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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