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Plants 2017, 6(2), 19; doi:10.3390/plants6020019

Pastoralism versus Agriculturalism—How Do Altered Land-Use Forms Affect the Spread of Invasive Plants in the Degraded Mutara Rangelands of North-Eastern Rwanda?

1
College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2
Faculty of Science, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
3
Department of Biology, College of Science and Technology, School of Science, University of Rwanda, P.O. Box 117, Huye, Rwanda
4
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kigali Campus, P.O. Box 3373, Kigali, Rwanda
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Milan S. Stankovic
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 May 2017 / Published: 12 May 2017
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Abstract

Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) originates from tropical Central and South America and has become invasive in about 50 countries. It causes problems when invading rangelands due to its toxicity to livestock and its tendency to form dense, monotonous thickets. Its invasiveness can partly be explained by the high tannin content largely protecting the species from being browsed, its tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions, as well as its general preference for anthropogenically disturbed habitats. The dispersal of L. camara is facilitated by birds and other animals consuming its drupes (endozoochory), and so both wild and domestic ungulates could contribute to its spread. In our study, we investigated the distribution of L. camara in the Mutara rangelands of north-eastern Rwanda, an area that faced dramatic landscape changes in recent decades. We assessed 23 ecological factors and factors related to land-use and conservation-political history. Major effects on the local abundance of L. camara were found in that the relative canopy cover of L. camara was negatively correlated with the occurrence of other shrubs (suggesting competition for space and nutrients), while encounter rates of houses, ‘living fences’ (Euphorbia tirucalli L.) and cattle tracks were positively correlated with L. camara cover. Hence, the spread of non-native L. camara in the Mutara rangelands appears to be linked to landscape alterations arising from the transformation of rangelands supporting traditional pastoralist communities to other agricultural land-use forms. View Full-Text
Keywords: cattle grazing; goat browsing; living fences; Dichrostachys; Cymbopogon; grassland degradation cattle grazing; goat browsing; living fences; Dichrostachys; Cymbopogon; grassland degradation
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Wronski, T.; Bariyanga, J.D.; Sun, P.; Plath, M.; Apio, A. Pastoralism versus Agriculturalism—How Do Altered Land-Use Forms Affect the Spread of Invasive Plants in the Degraded Mutara Rangelands of North-Eastern Rwanda? Plants 2017, 6, 19.

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