Allelopathic Impacts of the Invasive Tree Cedrela odorata L. (Meliaceae, Sapindales = Magnoliidae) in the Galapagos Flora

  • Gonzalo Rivas-TorresEmail author
  • María Gloria Rivas
Part of the Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands book series (SESGI)


Some non-native plant species present the potential to outcompete native plants and have the capacity to spread quickly and colonize recipient areas, becoming invasive. One of the most known and widely tested mechanisms promoting invasive plant colonization is allelopathy or the potential that certain plant species have to produce chemical compounds that inhibit germination or growth of native species. Despite of the wide range of plant habitats and ecological levels where allelopathy has been recorded to occur, there are comparatively very few studies detailing the presence of this explanatory mechanism in one of the most invaded biomes of the globe, oceanic islands.

Here, we evaluated the potential allelopathic effect of a highly invasive tree, Cedrela odorata, over germination and growth of invasive and native species recorded in one island of the Galapagos archipelago, Santa Cruz. We found that Cedrela extracts (from roots and leafs) didn’t affect germination of the tested species but caused a significant negative effect on growth (height and dry weight) of the endemic and highly threatened tree Scalesia pedunculata. The negative impact that Cedrela extracts have over Scalesia seedlings is particularly relevant, as this endemic tree used to dominate the highlands of Santa Cruz and is now in direct competition with this invasive plant. Overall, the results of this chapter are expected to help managers to understand that the mechanisms used by non-native plants to become invaders are diverse in oceanic islands as well. The incorporation of knowledge obtained from studies like the one presented here will not only provide a better understanding of the processes involved in harmful plant invasions in the Galapagos but will also aid to prioritize and choose the best actions to control and eradicate noxious species in this unique biome.


Cedrela odorata Chemical weapons Invasive plants Endemic trees Scalesia pedunculata 



Special thanks to Rafael Chango, Christian Sevilla, Danny Rueda, Wilson Cabrera, and all the staff at GNP for the logistic and technical support. Also, we want to recognize the hard labor by all the park rangers at the GNP in helping to maintain this World Heritage Site free of invasive species. We are also very grateful to Chris Buddenhagen, Luke Flory, and Carlos F. Mena for the help and discussions about data gathering and analyses and Patricia Jaramillo for allowing us to use the FCD Herbarium facilities. The Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Inovación (Senescyt), the Tropical Conservation and Development Program-UF, and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provided partial support for this study through scholarships provided to Gonzalo Rivas-Torres, as part of his doctoral dissertation project. These scholarships helped Maria Rivas to perform the fieldwork for this study and her bachelor’s thesis. This study was conducted under all regulations provided in the investigation permit No., PC-21-12 and regulated by GNP and was the result of the Scientific Collaborative Agreement between the GNP and Gonzalo Rivas-Torres.

Supplementary material

369693_1_En_6_MOESM1_ESM.docx (204 kb)
Chapter 6 Annexes (DOCX 204 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales and Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and SciencesUniversidad San Francisco de Quito-USFQQuitoEcuador
  2. 2.Galápagos Science Center UNC-USFQSan CristóbalEcuador
  3. 3.Courtesy Faculty, Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Instituto BIOSFERAUSFQQuitoEcuador
  5. 5.Private Consultant. Einstein y Borja, Conj. El PradoQuitoEcuador

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