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Checklist of alien and invasive plants of Georgia

Titel Englisch Checklist of alien and invasive plants of Georgia
Gesuchsteller/in Müller-Schärer Heinz
Nummer 110830
Förderungsinstrument SCOPES
Forschungseinrichtung Unité d'Ecologie et Evolution Département de Biologie Université de Fribourg
Hochschule Universität Freiburg - FR
Hauptdisziplin Botanik
Beginn/Ende 01.01.2006 - 30.06.2009
Bewilligter Betrag 72'000.00
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Alle Disziplinen (2)


Keywords (4)

biological invasions; biodiversity preservation; environmental weeds; alien plants

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lay summary
In Europe, as in most regions of the world, the number of alien (non-native, introduced) plant species (AP) has increased considerably in the past 200 years as a result of increasing trade, tourism and disturbance. The increasing number of naturalized AP with negative impacts on plant communities is viewed as a major component of global change.Successful invaders can affect the invaded communities in various ways, e.g. reducing the local diversity, driving rare native species to extinction (e.g. by competition or hybridisation), changing habitat structures and ecosystem functioning, or increasing erosion. Plants are particularly notorious invaders, since they are capable of changing the food web at the base, which can affect the entire ecosystem.The native flora of Georgia is exceptionally well studied due to its well-known richness that attracted generations of plant taxonomists from all over the world. The Flora of Georgia is amongst the richest in Europe and comprises approximately 4100 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the country is extremely diverse supporting semi-deserts, wetlands, mosaic deciduous forests, crook-stem sub-alpine forests and species-rich alpine communities. Preliminary observations indicate that this extraordinary wealth is now greatly challenged due to the spread of AP, which has especially increased due to changes in land use, cross-country pipeline construction, and habitat destruction. Especially threatened to plant invasions are seaside habitats (littoral sand beaches, wetland vegetation, swamp forests, etc.) and high-mountain meadows that are seriously transformed due to altered land use regimes (grazing, haying).Forests are a further ecosystem under high risk of invasion by AP due to severe overexploitation. No inventory of AP yet exists for Georgia.This Joint Research Project aims at surveying the alien plants of Georgia in expected sensitive habitats that will be identified in 18 out the19 historical-geographical regions of Georgia (due to political tension, the region of Abkhazia is currently inaccessible). We propose to conduct a quantitative survey restricted to the seed plants (Gymnospermae andAngiospermae) and to naturalized species only, thus excluding alien crop or ornamental plants that have not escaped from cultivation. The proposed studies will allow us to roughly estimate the abundance, distribution and invasive potential of AP in Georgia, to identify habitats most susceptible to invasions, and to assess the invasion impact of selected AP. For a selected important plant invader of Georgia with a potential for biological control, we also envisage to perform a molecular marker study (AFLP or microsatellites) to assess the genetic diversity and population differentiation in Georgia, and possibly to identify its origin using corresponding published data. Such basic knowledge is a pre-requisite for potential subsequent biological control measures by introducing host-specific and efficient antagonists from the invader’s native range.We propose an approach, which is elaborate but has the benefit that it can be executed with moderate means and equipment. We think that this Joint Research Project will contribute significantly 1) to increase our knowledge on the abundance and distribution of alien plants on a world-wide scale, and to better understand its causes and impacts, 2) to form the basic knowledge in Georgia to address one of the most important ecological threats causing environmental change and biodiversity loss, i.e. plant invasions, as a prerequisite for targeted interventions, and 3) to the scientific integration of Eastern Europe with that of the rest of Europe. A PhD student from Georgia jointly supervised by the Georgian and Swiss team will carry out most of the field work in Georgia, and will have the opportunity to learn modern molecular tools that are increasingly used in ecology, during his planned stay in Switzerland.
Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

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