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Managing Invasive Aquatic Plants in a Changing System: Strategic Consideration of Ecosystem Services

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Abstract: 

Climate change is projected to increase stress for many coastal plant communities. Along large portions of the North American coast, habitat degradation from anthropogenic changes to the environment already threaten the community structure of tidal marshes and submerged aquatic grass beds. The potential loss of ecological services historically provided by these communities has been a long-standing rationale for aggressive control of invading plants such as Phragmites australis and Hydrilla verticillata. Increasing evidence of ecological services provided by invasive species such as P. australis and H. verticillata suggest that, in the face of increasing stress, it may be prudent to take a more pragmatic approach regarding the effect of these species on coastal ecosystems. The notable resilience of these species to control efforts and their competitive success and comparative vigor in stressed systems and capacity to provide at least some beneficial services combine to suggest some invasive species may have a useful role in managed coastal ecosystems.
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Keywords: Hydrilla; Phragmites; cambio climatico; climate change; ecosystem services; especies exóticas; exotic species; invasive aquatic plants; plantas acuáticas invasoras; servicios del ecosistema

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, 1208 Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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