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Recovery of Endemic Dragonflies after Removal of Invasive Alien Trees

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Because dragonflies are very sensitive to alien trees, we assessed their response to large-scale restoration of riparian corridors. We compared three types of disturbance regime—alien invaded, cleared of alien vegetation, and natural vegetation (control)—and recorded data on 22 environmental variables. The most significant variables in determining dragonfly assemblages were percentage of bank cover and tree canopy cover, which indicates the importance of vegetation architecture for these dragonflies. This finding suggests that it is important to restore appropriate marginal vegetation and sunlight conditions. Recovery of dragonfly assemblages after the clearing of alien trees was substantial. Species richness and abundance at restored sites matched those at control sites. Dragonfly assemblage patterns reflected vegetation succession. Thus, initially eurytopic, widespread species were the main beneficiaries of the removal of alien trees, and stenotopic, endemic species appeared after indigenous vegetation recovered over time. Important indicator species were the two national endemics ( Allocnemis leucosticta and Pseudagrion furcigerum), which, along with vegetation type, can be used to monitor return of overall integrity of riparian ecology and to make management decisions. Endemic species as a whole responded positively to restoration, which suggests that indigenous vegetation recovery has major benefits for irreplaceable and widespread generalist species.
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Keywords: alien tree removal; dragonflies; endemic species; especies endémicas; libélulas; remoción de árboles exóticos; restauración ribereña; riparian restoration; rivers; ríos

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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