Title

Effects of Invasive Plant Species on Native Grasses in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Presenter

Sam Defreese

Abstract

Invasive alien plants are often thought to cause detrimental effects to ecosystems, destroying native plant life and altering ecosystem function. Not all interactions between native and invasive plant species are detrimental, however. The native arid grasslands of Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania, were surveyed to determine the effects of recent plant invasion. I recorded the color and dryness of the grasses both with and without the presence of invasive shrubs. After analyzing the relationship between presence of invasive shrubs and grass color and dryness, I found something quite unexpected. The presence of the invasive shrubs is not detrimental to the grasses but actually results in greener, less dry grass. This change in greenness may be attributed to a type of symbiotic relationship between the shrub and grasses that is seen in other arid systems. Shrubs may shade grasses, reducing evaporation, or concentrate nutrients in the soil for the grasses to utilize.

Faculty Sponsor

Tim Parker

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Plant Life

Location

Science 159

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

SFS: Tanzania Wildlife Management Studies

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Apr 19th, 2:45 PM Apr 19th, 3:00 PM

Effects of Invasive Plant Species on Native Grasses in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Science 159

Invasive alien plants are often thought to cause detrimental effects to ecosystems, destroying native plant life and altering ecosystem function. Not all interactions between native and invasive plant species are detrimental, however. The native arid grasslands of Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania, were surveyed to determine the effects of recent plant invasion. I recorded the color and dryness of the grasses both with and without the presence of invasive shrubs. After analyzing the relationship between presence of invasive shrubs and grass color and dryness, I found something quite unexpected. The presence of the invasive shrubs is not detrimental to the grasses but actually results in greener, less dry grass. This change in greenness may be attributed to a type of symbiotic relationship between the shrub and grasses that is seen in other arid systems. Shrubs may shade grasses, reducing evaporation, or concentrate nutrients in the soil for the grasses to utilize.