Distribution and abundance of invasive Tamarix genotypes in South Africa.
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The exotic Tamarix chinensis and T. ramosissima, believed to have been introduced into South Africa in the early 1900s to control erosion on mine dumps, are invading riparian zones and have been proven to hybridise with T. usneoides, which is native to southern Africa. In this study, we document the abundance of invasive Tamarix genotypes in South Africa. Eleven riparian zones from the Northern, Eastern and Western Cape Provinces were surveyed. Three quadrats of 600 m2 each were selected per site. Plant density, canopy cover and tree height were recorded to quantify invasiveness. Leaf samples were randomly collected from an average of eight individuals per site to record genotypes of the invaders. Tamarix density and canopy cover were significantly greater than those of co-occurring trees and shrubs in Olifants River in De Rust (Western Cape Province). A linear correlation between percentage Tamarix spp. cover and other co-occurring tree and shrub species showed a strong negative relationship (R2 = 0.78). Genetic analysis showed that the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces have the highest proportion of the exotic Tamarix species and their hybrids. This suggests that these two provinces require urgent management intervention to contain the spread of the weed. The distinctions made between the native and the exotic Tamarix species and their hybrids should also facilitate the testing and future release of potential biological control agents.
- RESEARCH: Byrne, M