Invasive alien plants along Mthatha river and their effects on the distribution of invertebrate taxa in Luchaba Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Mafereka, Sebata Philip
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The riparian zone of Mthatha River was surveyed with two aims. The first aim was to record invasive alien plants along the riparian zone of the Mthatha River. Nine sites were visited and 27 species were recorded. The most abundant weed recorded was Solanum mauritianum followed by Acacia mearnsii and Lantana camara (L.). Out of 27 species, 22 species are known as well-established major invaders and fifteen species belong to CARA category 1. These results revealed that the river has been invaded by the most noxious weeds and these need immediate eradication. The second aim was to identify invertebrate taxa within alien and indigenous vegetation in a protected area, with the objective of comparing the abundance of invertebrates at four a priori-selected sites (i.e. mixed alien, eucalyptus and indigenous acacia and grassland). Three-hundred and Forty-two (342) invertebrate individuals belonging to 11 orders were recorded. Results showed that some invertebrate taxa preferred indigenous vegetation sites whilst others preferred mixed alien sites. However, the least number of individuals and taxa were recorded at the Eucalyptus site. Thus, suggesting that invasive alien plants can seriously affects the composition and distribution of invertebrate assemblages. Conservation recommendations were made from findings of this work to relevant stake holders with regards to the management and eradication of these plants within and outside protected areas.