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Open AccessArticle

Biological Control of Salvinia molesta (D.S. Mitchell) Drives Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery

1
Department of Zoology and Entomology, Centre for Biological Control, Grahamstown (Makhanda) 6140, South Africa
2
Department of Botany, Centre for Biological Control, Grahamstown (Makhanda) 6140, South Africa
3
Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli, QC G5H 3Z4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12050204
Received: 2 April 2020 / Revised: 27 April 2020 / Accepted: 27 April 2020 / Published: 21 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology of Invasive Aquatic Plants)
Salvinia molesta D.S. Mitchell (Salviniaceae) is a damaging free-floating invasive alien macrophyte native to South America. The biological control programme against S. molesta by the weevil Cyrtobagous salviniae Calder and Sands (Erirhinidae) has been successful in controlling S. molesta infestations in the introduced range, however, there is some debate as to how biological control success is measured. This study measured the response of epilithic algae and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities in a S. molesta-dominated state and subsequently where the weed had been cleared by biological control, as a proxy for ecosystem recovery in a before–after control–impact mesocosm experiment. The restored treatment (S. molesta and C. salviniae) demonstrated epilithic algae and aquatic macroinvertebrate recovery during the “after” biological control phase, defined as similar to the control treatment. Comparatively, the impacted treatment (100% S. molesta) showed a drastic decline in biodiversity and shifts in community assemblages. We conclude that the biological control effort by C. salviniae facilitated biodiversity recovery of the impacted treatment. Furthermore, epilithic algae and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities were reliable biological indicators for measuring ecological impacts of invasion and ecosystem recovery following biological control, and thus represent potential tools for evaluating biological control success and ecological restoration. View Full-Text
Keywords: before–after control–impact design; biological indicators; biodiversity indices; community assemblages; ecological impacts; invasive alien aquatic plants; restoration before–after control–impact design; biological indicators; biodiversity indices; community assemblages; ecological impacts; invasive alien aquatic plants; restoration
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MDPI and ACS Style

Motitsoe, S.N.; Coetzee, J.A.; Hill, J.M.; Hill, M.P. Biological Control of Salvinia molesta (D.S. Mitchell) Drives Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery. Diversity 2020, 12, 204.

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