Monitoring and managing Chromolaena odorata in a South African savanna reserve : Evaluating the efficacy of current control programs in response to ecological factors and management protocols

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap


Biological invasions have increased dramatically in the past centuries and are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity today. Invasions occur when organisms are introduced at a location to which they are non-native, and they reproduce and spread, causing damage to the environment. Chromolaena odorata, a herbaceous shrub from the Americas, is one of the most widespread and problematic invasive plant species in the tropics and sub-tropics. The plant is a serious problem in South Africa, where invasive species threaten the nation’s biodiversity and limited water supply. This study combined transect monitoring data of C. odorata with ecological and clearing management data to assess the efficacy of an invasive plant clearing program over its decade of operation in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Densities and local extent of the C. odorata invasion were significantly reduced during the period of operations of the clearing program. Seasonal effects impacted clearing efficacy, namely a reduction in efficacy during the seed dispersal period. Effort and fire frequency were positively associated with clearing success, and rainfall negatively associated with clearing success. Excluding the northern section of the reserve, where the invasion progressed over the whole landscape, observations of C. odorata were closer to watercourses than randomized points, indicating a water limitation for invasion in most of the park. Management implications drawn from the results include halting clearing during seed-drop months, giving extra attention to areas with more rainfall and other water availability, and incorporating fire with other clearing methods where possible. 

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