Spartina alterniflora Loisel. is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America and often dominate intertidal mudflats of salt marshes and estuaries from Newfoundland, Canada to Florida and Texas, America, and the Republic of Surinam (Daehler & Strong, 1996). Over a century, the species invaded many countries all over the world through accidental process (ie via ships' ballast water) or deliberate introduction for the control of coastal erosion and land claim (Deng et al., 2006). The extensive rhizome and root networks and upright stems have made it an ideal agent for trapping and stabilising unconsolidated estuarine muds and balancing the erosion of muddy coastal shore (Delaune et al., 1978; Mendelssohn & Kuhn, 2004). Its rapid rate of growth, high fecundity and aggressive colonisation made it very successful, displacing in some places the natural vegetation and occupying and creating new habitats (Sanchez et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2004). Furthermore, S. alterniflora, as an ecological engineer, cause several alterations in the hydrology and food webs of invaded habitats that are detrimental to native wildlife and commercial uses (Qian & Ma, 1995; Zhu et al., 2004). Thus, It has been changed from an ecologically engineering species to a notorious invader. As a successful invasive species, the researches about the invasive mechanism and control strategies of S. alterniflora have been a hotspot.
In some places with serious erosion, the species is regarded as an important species for facilitating effective coastal defence, land-claim and even for the provision of grazing land. However, although originally considered useful and planted for coastal protection and landclaim projects around the world, views on its use and management began to change when S. alterniflora began to spread successfully into areas of conservation value, covering large areas of mudflats with extensive mono-specific swards. As a result, S. alterniflora is now possibly one of the most controversial species worldwide. Due to its biology, the habitat that it occupies, its uses and management, opinions of scientists and managers are diverse, varying almost as much as the regional uses that are made of the plant. The views of research and management practitioners on the species continue to vary in its value and management.
There is extensive literature on the subject of the biology of this non-native species, particularly in relation to its implications for the nature conservation interest of estuaries and coastal wetland. Management therefore needs to take into account the population dynamics and ecological behavior of this species, which are not as yet fully understood. The assessment presented thus includes: (1) Biological characteristics; (2) ecological superiority; (3) functioal evaluation and management .
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