EVALUATING THE EFFECTS OF INVASIVE ALIEN PLANTS ON WATER AVAILABILITY AND USABILITY OF LAKE WATER INGAUTENG PROVINCE

Abstract

The invasion of ecosystems by alien species is a growing threat to the delivery of ecosystem services.  This study explored the spatial distribution of alien plant invader in the Benoni Lakes and made analysis of its impact on water availability and usability in order to understand the evolution and its propagation rates. The study used satellite imagery for lake level modelling using Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems for calculations of area covered by weeds in each lake from 2002 to 2012.The modelling approach illustrates the potential usefulness in projecting invasive plants under climate change and enabled the quantification of long term changes in aquatic weeds. The results showed that aquatic infestations in lakes may be used as powerful predictors of correlations between plant abundance and climate change. The study therefore informs decision makers to identify areas where invasion is likely to occur and increase surveillance for early invaders.

CHAPTER: 1

1.1 INTRODUCTION

Invasive alien species have had extensive effects on the habitats they have invaded, altering forest cycles, nutrient cycling, hydrology and energy budgets in native ecosystems. They also compete with, prey on, and carry and cause diseases to native species. While the absolute number of alien species causing harm to native ecosystems and species may be low, individually and cumulatively they have had extensive negative effects in Nigeria (van Wilgen et al., 2012). Global change stressors including climate change and variability and changes in land use, are major drivers to ecosystem alterations. The alien plant invader (Eichhornia crassipes) is a noxious weed that has attracted worldwide attention due to its fast spread and congested growth, which lead to serious problems in navigation, irrigation and power generation. It is a free floating aquatic weed that can form dense mats on open water bodies. Its introduction to new sites is usually a result of deliberate release in the new areas. Once introduced, it can spread rapidly under optimal conditions, especially in water bodies polluted by nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers, as is the case in many dams. Its abundance can fluctuate over time (Keller and Lodge, 2009) , as it is often flushed out of water systems by floods, only to cover again when conditions improve (McNeely, 2005). As a result, research concerning the control (especially biological control) and utilisation (especially wastewater treatment or phytoremediation) of alien plant invader has boomed up in the last decade (Malik, 2007).

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Updated: 8th February 2018 — 6:50 pm

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