Weed Ecology and Diversity

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Plant Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2023) | Viewed by 25017

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Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are surrounded by weeds; in all places humans set foot, weeds will follow, and, in some cases, they become so successful that they invade human-impacted and natural habitats. The term “weed” is rather subjective as we are the ones who decide what plants are called weeds, and the term usually carries a negative connotation. However, there is a reason why weeds grow where they grow and behave in their particular manner. Today, certain groups of weeds have become extremely rare, and some species have even gone extinct from areas where they were once abundant. Climate change also creates a huge challenge, and weeds often act as indicators of this change.

In this Special Issue, we intend to publish contributions assessing the ecology and diversity of weeds in natural and human-impacted ecosystems. We would like to focus on how ecology impacts weeds' distribution, abundance, and diversity and how anthropogenic factors create and destroy specific weed communities. Further topics to be addressed include: 1) The role of weeds in plant communities; 2) How weeds change plant communities; 3) The benefits of weeds; 4) Weeds as bioindicators; 5) Invasive weed species; 6) Preservation of weed diversity; 7) How weed ecology can guide weed management.

With this in mind, we hope to better understand the importance of diverse weed communities and make sure that we do not only see weeds as pests but also recognize their benefits and the need for integrated and holistic management.

Dr. Ilias Travlos
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Weed diversity
  • Weeds
  • Agro-ecology
  • Weed communities
  • Biodiversity
  • Competition
  • Indicators
  • Conservation practices

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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22 pages, 4494 KiB  
Article
Ecology and Diversity of Angiosperm Parasites and Their Host Plants along Elevation Gradient in Al-Baha Region, Saudi Arabia
by Sami Asir Al-Robai
Diversity 2023, 15(10), 1065; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15101065 - 7 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1465
Abstract
The ecology and diversity of flowering parasitic plants and their hosts are poorly investigated and usually ignored in Saudi Arabian plant communities. Therefore, this work aimed at assessing the ecology and diversity of parasitic plants and their hosts along an elevation gradient in [...] Read more.
The ecology and diversity of flowering parasitic plants and their hosts are poorly investigated and usually ignored in Saudi Arabian plant communities. Therefore, this work aimed at assessing the ecology and diversity of parasitic plants and their hosts along an elevation gradient in the Al-Baha region (1300–2400 m.a.s.l.). Different quantitative vegetation parameters were applied to analyze the collected data. Eight parasitic plants from six genera and four families were identified along the gradient, with 67% of them being zoochorously dispersed species. They accounted for approximately 23.5% (8 out of 34) of those found throughout Saudi Arabia. Perennials, stem hemiparasites, and biregional taxa accounted for around 62.5% of the total parasites, whereas indigenous species accounted for 75%. The dominant family of parasitic species was Loranthaceae (50%), and Phragmanthera austroarabica A.G.Mill. & J.A.Nyberg was the most important species (IVI = 107.28). Orobanche cernua Loefl. and Loranthella deflersii (Tiegh.) S.Blanco & C.E.Wetzel were restricted to the dry zone (low elevation) only, while the other parasites were distributed across the surveyed region. Twenty-three host plants were identified throughout the study region. About 83% of them were phanerophytes and bioregional plants, with 91% being perennial species. The prevalent host plant family across all sites was Fabaceae, with Nicotina glauca Graham being the most important host species (IVI = 32.44%). P. austroarabica and Plicosepalus curviflorus Tiegh. preferred Vachellias as host plants, while Vachellia flava (Forssk.) Kyal. & Boatwr. was the heavily infected host by P. austroarabica. P. austroarabica had a broad spectrum of host range (13 host plants), while O. cernua had a very narrow host range (only Rumex nervosus Vahl). Individual parasite and host species were markedly more abundant in the wet zone than in the low-altitude dry zone. Further research is needed to fully understand such distinctive groups of plants and their negative and positive ecological consequences on plant biodiversity and natural ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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16 pages, 1576 KiB  
Article
Ecology and Diversity of Weed Communities in the Northern Andes under Different Anthropogenic Pressures
by Yessica P. Duque, Carlos E. Giraldo-Sánchez, Mario A. Quijano-Abril and Jose M. Rojas
Diversity 2023, 15(8), 936; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15080936 - 17 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1096
Abstract
Weeds can have both positive and negative effects on agricultural environments. However, despite the growing interest in the ecology of weed communities in agricultural areas, a few studies have been carried out in the northern region of the Andes of Colombia, where urban [...] Read more.
Weeds can have both positive and negative effects on agricultural environments. However, despite the growing interest in the ecology of weed communities in agricultural areas, a few studies have been carried out in the northern region of the Andes of Colombia, where urban and agricultural expansion have generated highly disturbed scenarios. The aim of this study was to analyze the diversity of vegetation and weed seed banks in three agricultural production systems and a forest ecosystem in the northern Andes of Colombia. Hill numbers were used to compare diversity, Beta diversity to assess changes in composition, and range—abundance–dominance curves at different sites. Likewise, indicator species were analyzed to find species associations to each system. The results revealed differences in the composition of weeds between the forest ecosystem and the agricultural production systems, with higher equitability in the forest ecosystem and higher dominance in agricultural systems. Significant differentiation was observed among the dominant species within each agricultural system, particularly highlighting those species considered pests due to their unique life history traits. These traits confer them with a greater advantage in the face of various anthropogenic selection pressures. These findings highlight the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on the ecological dynamics of weed communities in different ecosystems, which should be considered when planning integrated weed management techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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17 pages, 5930 KiB  
Article
Wild Plant Diversity and Soil Characteristics of Desert Roadside Vegetation in the Eastern Desert
by Heba Sallam, Mashail Nasser Alzain, Amani Omar Abuzaid, Naglaa Loutfy, Mohamed O. Badry, Ahmed K. Osman and Sabah A. Hammad
Diversity 2023, 15(7), 874; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070874 - 20 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1467
Abstract
The wild vegetation of the Eastern Desert is characterized by openness and comprises perennials and ephemerals. The current study investigated the relationship between the edaphic factors of the natural vegetation along El Sheikh Fadl–Ras Gharib Road, Southwest Suez Gulf, in the northern sector [...] Read more.
The wild vegetation of the Eastern Desert is characterized by openness and comprises perennials and ephemerals. The current study investigated the relationship between the edaphic factors of the natural vegetation along El Sheikh Fadl–Ras Gharib Road, Southwest Suez Gulf, in the northern sector of the Eastern Desert. The vegetation structure of the study area is relatively simple. The surveyed plants included 93 species from 22 families (51 perennials and 42 annuals). Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Amaranthaceae, and Fabaceae were the richest families, constituting the majority of plant species (53.76%). Therophytes were the most frequent life forms. About 83.87% of the total flora were pluriregional elements of different affinities. Most of the recorded taxa occupied the Irano-Turanian/Mediterranean/Saharo-Sindian/Sudano-Zambezian chorotypes. The application of TWINSPAN classification resulted in grouping the vegetation into three main vegetation groups (A, B, and C), representing distinct microhabitats. The CCA ordination indicates diversity in vegetation group A. Group B was highly associated with Na, Mg, CaCO3, silt, clay, and C/N. Group C showed a high correlation with sand, K, and N. The differences in wild plant life forms, richness, and diversity along the studied desert roadsides, in association with the soil differences, provide a good indication of plant biodiversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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10 pages, 1352 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Genetic Diversity among Weedy Rice Accessions Differing in Herbicide Tolerance and Allelopathic Potential
by Swati Shrestha, Gourav Sharma, Shandrea Stallworth, Edilberto D. Redona and Te Ming Tseng
Diversity 2022, 14(1), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14010044 - 11 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2256
Abstract
Increasing agricultural productivity is indispensable to meet future food demand. Crop improvement programs rely heavily on genetic diversity. The success of weeds in the ecosystem can be attributed to genetic diversity and plasticity. Weedy rice, a major weed of rice, has diverse morphology [...] Read more.
Increasing agricultural productivity is indispensable to meet future food demand. Crop improvement programs rely heavily on genetic diversity. The success of weeds in the ecosystem can be attributed to genetic diversity and plasticity. Weedy rice, a major weed of rice, has diverse morphology and phenology, implying wide genetic diversity. Study was conducted to genotype weedy rice accessions (n = 54) previously phenotyped for herbicide tolerance and allelopathic potential using 30 SSR markers. Cultivated rice (CL163, REX) and allelopathic rice (RONDO, PI312777, PI338047) were also included in the study. Nei’s genetic diversity among weedy rice (0.45) was found to be higher than cultivated rice (0.24) but less than allelopathic rice (0.56). The genetic relationship and population structure based on herbicide tolerance and allelopathic potential were evaluated. Herbicide-tolerant and susceptible accessions formed distinct clusters in the dendrogram, indicating their genetic variation, whereas no distinction was observed between allelopathic and non-allelopathic weedy rice accessions. Weedy rice accession B2, which was previously reported to have high allelopathy and herbicide tolerance, was genetically distinct from other weedy rice. Results from the study will help leverage weedy rice for rice improvement programs as both rice and weedy rice are closely related, thus having a low breeding barrier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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16 pages, 1003 KiB  
Article
Cultural Practices and Mechanical Weed Control for the Management of a Low-Diversity Weed Community in Spinach
by Ioannis Gazoulis, Panagiotis Kanatas and Nikolaos Antonopoulos
Diversity 2021, 13(12), 616; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13120616 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2882
Abstract
Low-diversity weed communities are dominated by few species that are highly competitive to crops. The management of such weed communities should rely upon sustainable cultural and non-chemical practices, especially in crops such as spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), where very few herbicides are [...] Read more.
Low-diversity weed communities are dominated by few species that are highly competitive to crops. The management of such weed communities should rely upon sustainable cultural and non-chemical practices, especially in crops such as spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), where very few herbicides are available. A two-year field trial (2020 and 2021) was conducted to evaluate different fertilization practices (broadcast and banded), intra-row spacings (15 cm, 11 cm, 7 cm), and mechanical weed control treatments (untreated, one treatment, two treatments) for the management of a low-diversity weed community in spinach. Weed competition severely affected spinach commercial biomass (R2 = 0.845). Compared to broadcast fertilization, banded fertilization reduced weed biomass and improved spinach yield and nitrogen use efficiency. Narrow intra-row spacing (7-cm) reduced weed biomass by 28 and 45% compared to intra-row spacings of 11-cm and 15-cm, respectively. Two mechanical weed control treatments resulted in 49% lower weed biomass compared to a single treatment. Commercial biomass increased with decreasing intra-row spacing (R2 = 0.881) and increasing the number of mechanical treatments (R2 = 0.911). More cultural and non-chemical practices should be evaluated for weed management in spinach, especially at sites infested with low-diversity weed communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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17 pages, 7381 KiB  
Article
High Differentiation among Populations of Green Foxtail, Setaria viridis, in Taiwan and Adjacent Islands Revealed by Microsatellite Markers
by Wei-Hsun Hsieh, Yen-Chiun Chen, Hsien-Chun Liao, Yann-Rong Lin and Chih-Hui Chen
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040159 - 7 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2606
Abstract
Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv., or green foxtail, is native to Eurasia and is the putative ancestor of foxtail millet. Due to the advantageous genetic characteristics of S. viridis, it is a model species for C4 plants. However, S. viridis has seriously spread [...] Read more.
Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv., or green foxtail, is native to Eurasia and is the putative ancestor of foxtail millet. Due to the advantageous genetic characteristics of S. viridis, it is a model species for C4 plants. However, S. viridis has seriously spread to the agricultural system around the world because of its wide adaptability. This study is aimed to understand the distribution of S. viridis in Taiwan, and also to investigate the genetic diversity and relationships among different wild populations. A total of 141 S. viridis collected at 10 sites with sampling sizes ranging from 8 to 24 plants in Taiwan were analyzed by 13 highly polymorphic SSR markers, and 6.1 alleles per locus were detected in our study. The relationships of collected S. viridis mostly corresponded to its distribution in different parts of Taiwan revealed by PCoA and phylogenetic tree. Similarly, the results for population structure showed the significance of collecting site or geographical factors. Finally, the extent of gene flow was studied with the genetic differentiation (FST) and Nm values, and two S. viridis populations were found to significantly contain the existence of gene-flow events. In conclusion, S. viridis showed a pattern of low diversity and heterozygosity within a population, but high differentiation among populations because of its selfing attribute and the barriers of sea and mountain range for gene flow. In addition, the founder effect may be the other reason for this pattern of population genetic structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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16 pages, 1276 KiB  
Article
Detection of Target-Site Herbicide Resistance in the Common Ragweed: Nucleotide Polymorphism Genotyping by Targeted Amplicon Sequencing
by Barbara Kutasy, Zoltán Farkas, Balázs Kolics, Kincső Decsi, Géza Hegedűs, Judit Kovács, János Taller, Zoltán Tóth, Nikoletta Kálmán, Gabriella Kazinczi and Eszter Virág
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030118 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2695
Abstract
Background: The spread of herbicide-resistance Ambrosia artemisiifolia threatens not only the production of agricultural crops, but also the composition of weed communities. The reduction of their spread would positively affect the biodiversity and beneficial weed communities in the arable habitats. Detection of resistant [...] Read more.
Background: The spread of herbicide-resistance Ambrosia artemisiifolia threatens not only the production of agricultural crops, but also the composition of weed communities. The reduction of their spread would positively affect the biodiversity and beneficial weed communities in the arable habitats. Detection of resistant populations would help to reduce herbicide exposure which may contribute to the development of sustainable agroecosystems. Methods: This study focuses on the application of target-site resistance (TSR) diagnostic of A. artemisiifolia caused by different herbicides. We used targeted amplicon sequencing (TAS) on Illumina Miseq platform to detect amino acid changes in herbicide target enzymes of resistant and wild-type plants. Results: 16 mutation points of four enzymes targeted by four herbicide groups, such as Photosystem II (PSII), Acetohydroxyacid synthase (AHAS), 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) and protoporphyrinogen IX oxidase (PPO) inhibitors have been identified in common ragweed populations, so far. All the 16 mutation points were analyzed and identified. Out of these, two mutations were detected in resistant biotypes. Conclusions: The applied next-generation sequencing-targeted amplicon sequencing (NGS-TAS) method on A. artemisiifolia resistant and wild-type populations enable TSR detection of large sample numbers in a single reaction. The NGS-TAS provides information about the evolved herbicide resistance that supports the integrated weed control through the reduction of herbicide exposure which may preserve ecological properties in agroecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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10 pages, 713 KiB  
Article
Do Weeds Hinder the Establishment of Native Plants on a Reclaimed North American Boreal Mine Site?
by Kaitlyn E. Trepanier, Brea Burton and Bradley D. Pinno
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020076 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2091
Abstract
The majority of plant diversity in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada is comprised of native understory plant species that are continuously facing competition from other species, including both undesirable native and weedy species. In oil sands mine reclamation, cover soils rich [...] Read more.
The majority of plant diversity in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada is comprised of native understory plant species that are continuously facing competition from other species, including both undesirable native and weedy species. In oil sands mine reclamation, cover soils rich in organic matter are used to cap overburden materials. The aim of this study is to understand the role of weeds on different reclamation cover soils (forest floor-mineral mix and peat-mineral mix) and determine if they hinder the establishment of the native plant community. This study was conducted four growing seasons after site establishment in June 2019. At that time, both soil types had approximately 45% total cover, had 21 species per plot, and were composed of mainly native vegetation. Competition from non-native forbs (11% average cover, mainly Sonchus arvensis and Melilotus alba) did not seem to impact the development of the native vegetation community on either soil type given the high cover and richness of native forbs. However, native graminoids (predominantly Calamagrostis canadensis) were associated with reduced native forb cover and richness at graminoid cover greater than 17%. Overall, non-native forbs appeared to have little impact on the native forb community on either soil type while native graminoids had a negative influence. We suggest that the classification of what is considered an undesirable weedy species should be evaluated in the context of ecosystem management goals rather than simply the presence of non-native species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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Review

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27 pages, 1572 KiB  
Review
Invasive Alien Plant Species—Raising Awareness of a Threat to Biodiversity and Ecological Connectivity (EC) in the Adriatic-Ionian Region
by Ioannis Gazoulis, Nikolaos Antonopoulos, Panagiotis Kanatas, Nikolas Karavas, Irena Bertoncelj and Ilias Travlos
Diversity 2022, 14(5), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14050387 - 13 May 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4354
Abstract
Improving ecological connectivity (EC) within landscapes by establishing corridors and ecological networks has been proposed to counteract the negative effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change on biodiversity. To be functional, ecological networks should be kept free of opportunistic invasive species that can [...] Read more.
Improving ecological connectivity (EC) within landscapes by establishing corridors and ecological networks has been proposed to counteract the negative effects of habitat fragmentation and climate change on biodiversity. To be functional, ecological networks should be kept free of opportunistic invasive species that can disrupt EC between protected areas and cause biodiversity loss. The present study focused on perennial herbaceous species whose occurrence in the Adriatic-Ionian region has increased in the last two decades, namely common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), Bohemian knotweed (Reynoutria × bohemica), giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), and Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). All species have a high potential to spread in grasslands, abandoned agricultural fields, forest edges, and riparian areas and pose a significant threat to native plant communities and biodiversity. Restoring heavily infested sites is a major challenge because these perennial invaders are very persistent and tend to alter the soil environment in invaded habitats and prevent the recolonization of native plant communities. Therefore, early action should be taken to prevent the spread of these environmental weeds in ecological networks and protected areas with high conservation value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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19 pages, 2641 KiB  
Review
Farming Intensity Affects Soil Seedbank Composition and Spontaneous Vegetation of Arable Weeds
by Philipp Köllmann and Rainer Waldhardt
Diversity 2022, 14(2), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14020111 - 4 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1929
Abstract
Former studies carried out in the 2000s in the Lahn-Dill region located in the middle-east of the German state Hesse stated a depletion of arable weeds on the field scale and more diverse weed flora on the landscape scale. Current study, having started [...] Read more.
Former studies carried out in the 2000s in the Lahn-Dill region located in the middle-east of the German state Hesse stated a depletion of arable weeds on the field scale and more diverse weed flora on the landscape scale. Current study, having started in 2018, aims to contribute to a better understanding of the interactions between arable weed species diversity, farming intensity, grown crops and landscape area. Moreover, the potential of organic farming methods for conservation and promotion the arable weed diversity is aimed to be assessed with the study. In total, 42 fields in two landscape regions were sampled—six seedbank samples were collected from each field; additionally, data on spontaneous arable weed flora were recorded each spring from 2019 to 2021; emerged aboveground weeds were identified in the fields and their coverage was documented. Four factors were considered in the field trial: Farming practice, landscape area, soil depth and the current crop. Effects of these factors on arable weed species diversity were calculated with a Generalized Linear Model (GLM), resulting in significant effects of the management system, the area and the current crop. Among the four organic farming systems that were sampled, the time period of organic growing had a significant effect on weed seed numbers in the soil with an increase in seed numbers. Average seedbank species numbers were around twice as high in organic farming systems (18 species) compared to conventional managed fields (nine species). Evidence of an ongoing species decline in the region on the landscape scale could be detected by comparison with a former study. Especially rare and endangered weed species are a concern due to seedbank and current vegetation depletion tendencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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