Restoration of invaded Cape Floristic Region riparian systems leads to a recovery in foliage-active arthropod alpha- and beta-diversity
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The Cape Floristic Region of South Africa is a global biodiversity hotspot threatened by invasive alien plants (IAPs). We assessed the effect of plant invasions, and their subsequent clearing, on riparian arthropod diversity. Foliage-active arthropod communities were collected from two native and one invasive alien tree species. Alpha- and beta-diversity of their associated arthropod communities were compared between near pristine, Acacia-invaded and restored sites. Arthropod alpha-diversity at near pristine sites was higher than at restored sites, and was lowest at invaded sites. This was true for most arthropod taxonomic groups associated with all native tree species and suggests a general trend towards recovery in arthropod alpha-diversity after IAP removal. Overall, arthropod species turnover among sites was significantly influenced by plant invasions with communities at near pristine sites having higher turnover than those at restored and invaded sites. This pattern was not evident at the level of individual tree species. Although arthropod community composition was significantly influenced by plant invasions, only a few significant differences in arthropod community composition could be detected between restored and near pristine sites for all tree species and arthropod taxonomic groups. Assemblage composition on each tree species generally differed between sites with similar degrees of plant invasion indicating a strong turnover of arthropod communities across the landscape. Results further suggest that both arthropod alpha- and beta-diversity can recover after IAP removal, given sufficient time, but catchment signatures must be acknowledged when monitoring restoration recovery.
- RESEARCH: Esler K